OPPOSE THE DANGEROUS
A Guide For Vegas Locals
On January 18, Jay Owenhouse announced his intention to withdraw the portion of his application that requested the use of tigers.
Thank you to everyone who joined us in speaking out!
WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE TIGER TENT?
The tiger tent is a project proposed by Montana-based magician Jay Owenhouse to place a temporary tent in a parking lot on the corner of Paradise and Sahara for one year. This area is technically in the town of Winchester, but most would identify this area as "Las Vegas."
In the tent, Owenhouse would like to cruelly house three adult tigers in a cage that he would take out periodically to use in a magic show. Within 1 mile of the intended area of the tent, there are numerous residential buildings, schools, businesses, and tourist sites.
Even though it is not permitted under Clark County's Code of Ordinances regarding exotic animals and would require numerous exemptions to County planning codes, Owenhouse--who recently sold his house in Montana for $1.6 million dollars--has hired a local attorney to help him push his project through.
The Town of Winchester Advisory Board and the County Planning Commission have already unanimously recommended that the project DOES NOT move forward due to the project's lack of compliance with local law.
Please email your County Commissioner and let them know you oppose the Owenhouse tiger project. If you are unsure of the name of your commissioner, click here to input your address and find out. You can then call or email your Commissioner to share your thoughts. We encourage polite, fact-based comments. Commissioner contact information can be found here.
You can make an in-depth statement or simply email and state: My name is "first and last name" and I live at "street address" and I want to state my opposition for Land Use application UC-21-0645, the Owenhouse tiger tent.
Attend the final meeting discussing the project on Wednesday January 19 at 9am at the County Government Center at 500 S Grand Central Parkway. Details are available by clicking here. At the meeting you will have the opportunity to speak to let the Commissioners know that you oppose the illegal confinement of tigers in Clark County! It is not possible to know at exactly what time the issue will be discussed. However, it is the second item on the agenda for discussion, so we are hopeful it will not be more than a couple of hours.
Need more information or assistance? We're happy to help! Email us.
1. ISN'T THIS PROJECT ILLEGAL?
Simply put: the Owenhouse project is a violation of Chapter 10.18.010 of the Clark County Code of Ordinances and is not reasonably eligible for any exemption listed under 10.18.020 (for more detail, click here). This project should not be considered. However, the Board of Commissioners has the ability to make exceptions for Owenhouse's project.
We believe that all citizens, whether they are wealthy and can afford an attorney or not, should abide by the important, life-protecting ordinances that have been fought for and accepted by our community as local law.
If Mr. Owenhouse would like to see a change in the exotic animal law to make his show legal in Clark County, he should start by becoming a resident of Clark County and working toward those changes, not by attempting to show up in Las Vegas and undermining our local protections because it suits his bank account to do so.
2. ISN'T THIS PROJECT DANGEROUS?
Absolutely. In Las Vegas, we are all very aware that tigers can behave in dangerous and unpredictable ways. On October 3, 2002, Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy was attacked by his tiger Montecore on stage during his act. Montecore severed Horn's spine causing a stroke and massive blood loss. Horn was permanently disabled due to the incident. This is just one instance of countless incidents involving the dangerous nature of tiger shows.
While Owenhouse has made claims locally that there have not been any dangerous incidents with his tigers, his previous statements differ. In 2019, Owenhouse admitted that he and his daughter were injured by the tigers, and his daughter's laceration required the doctor to seal it up with superglue.
Also in 2019, Owenhouse was cited by the USDA for risking the safety of a juvenile tiger and the public by failing to ensure that sufficient distance or a barrier was in place between the tiger and the public. The agency noted that “[b]ecause of the strength and speed of tigers, there is inherent danger for both the viewing public and the exhibited animal” in such situations." These incidents should come as no surprise because Owenhouse has no formal training or education in tiger care. In a now-deleted video from last year, Mr. Owenhouse claimed not to know what an "apex predator" is, despite the fact that tigers are apex predators.
There is also a risk of escape, which would be tremendously dangerous for the public and the tiger. Owenhouse's emergency plan involves: 1. Calling 911, 2. Calling Animal Control, 3. Calling the U.S. Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, 4. Calling a local veterinarian. The list goes on from there. How long would it take for Metro or Animal Control to arrive on the scene? How much danger would we be putting our local enforcement agencies in? A loose or escaped tiger would create unimaginable levels of danger for staff and visitors to the tent, as well as individuals in the vicinity and those tasked to manage the situation.
His plan for "Humane Lethal Dispatch" (killing) a tiger in event of an uncontrollable incident involves first an attempt to euthanize the tiger with a tranquilizer gun and, if that doesn't work, a "kill shot with a 45 caliber gun in the head, heart or lungs."
Imagine the chaos and terror of an escaped or enraged tiger, and the difficulty in recapturing or controlling the animal. Flying bullets in a residential area put everyone at risk.
3. I HEARD ON THE NEWS THIS PROJECT IS A TIGER SANCTUARY.
Mr. Owenhouse's project is not a sanctuary by any generally accepted use of the word "sanctuary" as it applies to tigers.
Appropriate requirements for tiger captivity are determined by two bodies in the United States: Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). Owenhouse's parking lot tiger cages do not meet the standards of either organization for the keeping of captive tigers and would not be eligible for certification.
Mr. Owenhouse's attorney uses the word "sanctuary" to trick the public into believing that a cage in a parking lot without access to a natural environment in which to roam is an acceptable situation for tigers. It absolutely is not.
Tiger sanctuaries that abide by appropriate standards are a part of the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance. They wrote a joint letter speaking out against Owenhouse's project detailing numerous safety and animal welfare concerns. They specifically noted that Owenhouse's plan involves 1. unsafe fencing specifications, 2. a lack of detail regarding the dangerous entry/exit of the tigers from their cages, and is 3. "an accident waiting to happen" with regard to live performance with tigers.
They go on to share that the use of tigers in shows adversely impacts their welfare and serves no educational purpose.
Most importantly, they note: The applicant misuses the word “sanctuary” to whitewash the exploitation of captive tigers.
4. IS THIS PROJECT CRUEL TO TIGERS?
In a word: DEFINITELY.
The Owenhouse tigers are denied any semblance of a normal, natural life. They are forced to perform in Owenhouse's magic show, hauled around in trailers, and left to live in cages that do not give them the room to act according to their natural instincts.
In 2019/2020, Owenhouse dragged his tigers around in a cramped trailer for months on end across numerous states. This is not the behavior of someone who puts the needs of tigers above his own selfish desire to profit off of them.
According to the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance: "Tigers may be trained to perform, but they remain wild animals with distinctive needs. There is simply no scientific evidence to suggest that their needs can be met in a temporary facility such as that proposed. In fact, animals may develop health problems and/or unusual behaviors as a result of the persistent stress of handling and exposure to loud sounds and crowds." Read their full letter here.
The Association of Zoos and Aquarium staunchly opposes “the treatment of animals as disposable and replaceable parts in a roadside menagerie.”
The Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries mandates that tigers "should be able to enjoy lives that are as close as possible to that of their wild counterparts as regards stimulation and interest" and state clearly that "Humans do not enter enclosures" with tigers, as occurs in Owenhouse's magic show.
In today's day and age, it is simple common sense to understand that tigers are wild animals who can exhibit unpredictable behaviors--particularly when stressed by handling or environment--and deserve to live their lives according to their own nature and with respect for their complex needs and desires. They are not family pets, they are not toys, and they are not props for use in a magic show.
5. WHERE DID THESE TIGERS COME FROM?
Jay Owenhouse acquired his tigers from "Doc" Antle. If that name seems familiar to you, it's because he is one of the villains who appears in the Netflix series "Tiger King". More recently Netflix has released the "Doc Antle Story." People who have worked closely with Doc for numerous years describe him as a "con artist" and misogynist.
In October 2020, Antle was charged with one felony count of wildlife trafficking, one felony count of conspiracy to traffic wildlife, four misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act, and nine misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. Learn more. Antle is accused of trafficking lion cubs between Virginia and South Carolina, a violation of the Endangered Species Act. The cubs were transported in a "cruel, brutal, or inhumane manner so as to produce torture or unnecessary suffering," according to the indictment.
Yet Jay Owenhouse says that Antle "treats his animals first class" (KTNV, 2020).
Antle has tiger cubs he needs to dispense with because he breeds to give visitors to his compound the opportunity to pet a tiger cub. The tiger cub petting industry is notoriously cruel to animals. So much so that the practice was banned in the state of Nevada in 2021 with SB344, the so-called Tiger King bill.
Two of the Owenhouse tigers are white tigers.
White tigers are not a separate subspecies of tiger. There is only one tiger species and only two recognized subspecies in the world—the Continental and the Sunda. White tigers are the result of a genetic mutation called leucism. This rare mutation is perpetuated by breeding two white tigers. Because of this, white tigers are inbred and commonly have issues include spinal deformities, defective organs, and immune deficiencies.
In the same KTNV interview with Owenhouse mentioned above, Owenhouse stated Antle has "excellent breeding lines on tigers." Simply put: there is no excellent breeding line for white tigers. White tigers are only bred for the entertainment industry. They are not a species or equipped--due to their white fur--to life in the wild.
Let's be clear: no one that cared about tiger conservation would practice inbreeding and perpetuate the market for illness-ridden white tigers.
The Owenhouse tigers live in a warehouse located at 667 Glider Lane in Belgrade, Montana.
It is easy to see that the tigers are located in an area with both businesses and residences and are not granted any acreage upon which to roam, as best practice would indicate for captive tigers in a sanctuary.
Owenhouse claims his tigers are "family" and that he "loves" them. Yet the Owenhouse family lived in a house a half hour away in Bozeman. That house was recently sold for $1.6 million. As far as we are aware, the tigers remain in the Belgrade warehouse.
6. WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? WHAT DO YOU WANT?
Absolutely nothing. This information page is brought to you by CompassionWorks International (CWI), a nonprofit animal advocacy organization.
Unlike Mr. Owenhouse and his tacky magic show, CWI was born and is headquartered in the Las Vegas Valley and has worked hard to be a positive voice in our community for more than 8 years. We believe in treating all animals with kindness and making sure they are afforded the respect as individuals that they justly deserve.
We would like for Mr. Owenhouse to prove that he actually loves his tigers and views them as more than gimmicky props he cages for his magic show. He can do this by working with us to secure his tigers a place in a GFAS-accredited sanctuary where they will live as freely and naturally as possible in a captivity setting. CWI has already been assured placement for all three tigers with a reputable sanctuary. We will then look forward to seeing Mr. Owenhouse's animal-free magic show.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Appropriate Captive Tiger Habitat
Both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) produce extensive documents for appropriately caring for captive tigers. An analysis of both documents prove that Owenhouse's project is inappropriate in the manner in which the tigers are used as well as how they are housed.
The Owenhouse project calls for two 30' x 30' (900 square foot) cages. One cage would house one tiger and one cage would house 2 tigers. The cages would be 10 feet high. Owenhouse has provided the image below of his cages.
The AZA and GFAS standards for captive tiger keeping state that outdoor enclosures should be 1,600 square feet with 50% extra space per additional animal (AZA standards) and 1,200 square feet per pair of tigers with a 12 foot roof. Owenhouse's cages fall far short of these minimum requirements.
Both the AZA and GFAS recommend that tigers have far more space than their minimum standards including additional habitat space outside of the main living area. The average tiger enclosure at an AZA zoo is 5,500 feet.
In its present configuration, there is a lack of adequate space for three tigers, particularly if the two tigers planned for the single cage space have an altercation or can do longer live together.
As locals know well, temperatures in Las Vegas can range from below freezing to extremes of 115+.
The roof of the tiger tent will consist of a simple canvas awning only covering 40% of the cage space. A sunshade will be applied to the rest of the roof during periods of heat.
In Owenhouse's plan, which states the intent to keep the tigers in cages in the parking lot for an entire year, there are no preparations made for freezing temperatures, torrential rain, flooding, hail, extreme winds, or snow.
Owenhouse's plan for managing the summer heat involves moving the tigers into their climate controlled trailer when the temperature is above 108. This means that for extended periods of time during the summer months, the tigers could be confined to a trailer that has only 7 feet 9 inches by 9 feet 2 inches of space.
In 2021, Las Vegas had more than 80 degrees above 100. Of those, 16 days were 108 or more. When the temperatures are 100+, the temperature of a parking lot surface is 135-160 degrees, which can cause 2nd or even 3rd degree burns and is hot enough to fry an egg.
GFAS recommend that tigers have access to an enclosure with heating for temperatures under 30 degrees and cooling at temperatures above 85 degrees. Again, Owenhouse offers no plan for freezing temperatures or extreme weather conditions, and has no substantive plan to manage the excessive Las Vegas heat or the dangerous heating of a parking lot in 100+ degree temperatures.
We offer the cage size and temperature aspects of the Owenhouse plan as just two examples of how his parking lot tiger cages are NOT sanctuaries but simply holding cages that are inadequate to providing appropriate tiger welfare.
How is Owenhouse attempting to avoid
the Clark County exotic animal ordinance?
The next item of the ordinance makes clear that Owenhouse's show is not welcome:
There are 8 classes of exemptions listed in Chapter 10.18.020. The Owenhouse project is not eligible under any listed exemption.
In a letter from Mr. Owenhouse's attorney to Mr. Jim Andersen, Chief of Code Enforcement for Clark County Animal Control, Mr. Owenhouse is asserting an exemption under exemption (a), which reads "Any location where any portion of the property is occupied by a person accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, or the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and holds all required permits and licenses from comprehensive planning, business licensing, the building department, and any other local, state, or federal regulatory agency;":
However, the statement from Mr. Owehouse's attorney is intentionally disingenuous. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) does not "endorse" veterinarians. Upon finding out that Mr. Owenhouse was using the name of the AZA to build his case for an exemption, the AZA spoke out in a letter to the Clark County Board of Commissioners:
Therefore, Mr. Owenhouse CANNOT claim 10.18.020 (a) as a reason for exemption.
Mr. Owenhouse is additionally not eligible for any other exemption listed under 10.18.020.
When his project was previously approved the the Board of Commissioners for a six-month project in a different area of the Strip in 2020 (which never opened due to the pandemic), the Commission decided to reinterpret exemption (h), which allows for temporary exhibitions of 20 days or less, by stating that Mr. Owenhouse would have to reapply every 20 days.
While exemption (h) does not specifically state that no extensions or re-applications are allowed, it is a gross mischaracterization and exploitation of an ordinance that specifically seeks to limit the number of days allowed for a temporary exhibition to permit continuous re-application for an entire year.
Owenhouse "Emergency Plan"