Sunday 5 December 2021 | 2 am
Three tigers can hook up with Las Vegas for a year, and live in a temperature-controlled sanctuary with waterfalls and pools in a parking lot near the strip, if a prankster gets the permits needed for his magic show.
But he must pass scrutiny from both the county and animal advocacy groups, assuring them that both the public and the tigers will be safe.
Magician Jay Owenhouse is looking to bring a magic show and tiger sanctuary near Paradise Road and Convention Center Drive, but he must first get approval from the Clark County Commission later this month. The Winchester City Council voted last week to recommend that the committee not agree to the proposal.
The sanctuary will consist of two 900-square-foot containment areas, each with a sleeping cave and in-ground pool, and will be secured by a 10-foot-high wooden security fence, with an additional base of razor and wire. ceiling enclosure.
Owenhouse did not return a call for comment, but at a Winchester Town Council meeting last week he said he was a “passionate advocate for animals” and that his tigers were part of his family. He says he never bought a tiger but adopted a tiger that needs homes.
He said the tigers lived with him at his Montana home for the first six months before they moved into the tiger sanctuary he started 26 years ago.
“Our tigers don’t live in cages,” he said. He said the shelter at the site would be climate controlled and would allow them to live and “walk to work” rather than having to deal with the stress of travel. He also added that the Three Tigers will each be on stage for only four minutes during the show.
He plans to run the show for a year in a tent that measures 82 feet high and 2,352 square feet. The piece on which the animals will be placed belongs to the headquarters of the World Buddhist Association.
Clark County employees have expressed concern about the fair’s proximity to neighboring properties, which include family residential developments, according to the Winchester Town Council Advisory Council’s agenda package.
Clark County Animal Control said Owenhouse was not eligible for an exotic or wild animal permit unless the process was temporary and less than 20 days old. If Owenhouse’s request is approved, Clark County Animal Control recommends a time limit of 20 days.
If the district commission approves the application, Owenhouse must demonstrate that the areas around the property will not be adversely affected and that the facility will be supervised 24 hours a day. The tiger barn should have a double door system to prevent escape. He must also notify the Metro Police and Clark County School District Police if any animal escapes. He must also provide animal control with information about the animals, including their age, health, history of aggression, and a current color photograph of each animal.
The animal control official will also inspect the premises before the show opens to the public as well as at any reasonable time.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and CompassionWorks International have voiced their opposition, and have asked the province to reject Owenhouse’s request.
“Tigers are solitary hunters who should swim in jungle streams, not speed inside parking cages,” Rachel Matthews, director of captive animal law enforcement at the PETA Foundation, said in a statement. “PETA invites officials to bid Jay Owenhouse for an elusive magic show and the tiger tent disappears.”
Groups are concerned about the presence of tigers in the parking lot during the hottest part of summer, exposing the tigers to “extreme heat” as well as noise from the monorail, condominium and crowded intersections.
Others at the advisory board meeting raised concerns about public safety and were concerned that the tiger could harm someone.
“The safety of the animals and the safety of the public are our top priorities,” Owenhouse said. “I have an excellent safety record. I have never had any of my animals harm anyone, and they have never tried to harm anyone.”
A part-time Las Vegas resident, Owenhouse has one of the biggest touring fantasies in the country with his show “Dare to Believe”, and his performances include imaginary acts originally performed by Harry Houdini.
Owenhouse’s shows also often feature his children and tigers, which he reportedly got from fancier Doc Antle, who has appeared in the Netflix docuseries titled “Tiger King.”
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service conducts inspections at least once a year at the Oenhaus Preserve, and the last inspection, conducted on July 28, 2021, found nothing out of compliance. Of the 13 USDA inspections of the Oenhouse sanctuary since 2014, only one was found to be non-compliant.
On May 3, 2019, a video showed that there was not enough distance or barriers between the tiger and the public, according to the USDA inspection report.
“Given the tigers’ strength and speed, an inherent risk exists for both viewers and the displayed animal as there is any chance that the audience will come into direct contact with young tigers or adult tigers,” the report says.
USDA Animal Welfare inspectors instructed Owenhouse to ensure that from that point onwards all animals are displayed with barriers and/or sufficient distance from the public.
“Tigers have complex species-specific needs that Jay Owenhouse seems unwilling to meet,” said Carrie LeBlanc, CEO of CompassionWorks International, in a statement.
The committee is scheduled to hear Owenhouse’s request at its meeting on December 22.