Animal Law

Board Seems Reluctant to Allow Tiger Sanctuary in a Tent One Block From the Vegas Strip

What could go wrong

So this was on the agenda of the Town Advisory Board meeting last week in Winchester, Nevada, within which, as you may know, part of the Las Vegas Strip is located:

That image may be a little blurry, so let me just call out a few of the most important phrases for you: “inherently dangerous exotic animals,” “not within a permanently enclosed building,” “fabric structure (tent),” and “on-premises consumption of alcohol.”

Those are probably all the facts you need to make a decision on this one, but there’s one more relevant phrase that might require a little explanation: “the east side of Paradise Road and the south side of Sahara Avenue.” That appears to mean what’s now a parking lot just southeast of that intersection. (It appears to be owned by Buddhists.) As you can see in the image above, that is just one block from the Strip, an area that by the time this project was complete might again be crowded with slow, plump tourists who have spent all day marinating in something or other. But then that’s one of the great things about Vegas: the all-you-can-eat buffets.

This superb idea is, perhaps not too surprisingly, the brainchild of a magician, who uses tigers in his act in some way the report does not explain. Jay Owenhouse wants to bring his three tigers from Montana, where they apparently reside now, to Las Vegas for a show that would last 12 months, if not suddenly cut short by some unforeseeable event. To be fair, this report says the plan includes two “containment areas” for the tigers, surrounded by an 11-foot barbed wire fence. Also, “if a tiger were to escape,” it continues, “police and the school district would … be notified immediately.” That’s good to know, although it seems doubtful the response time would be less than it takes a tiger to run a block.

Apart from safety concerns, tiger people pointed out that the planned “containment areas” are only 900 square feet, a space barely adequate for a law-firm associate and certainly not enough for a ginormous jungle cat. [EDIT: I was thinking of living space when I wrote that, not office space; as a number of people (most likely partners) have pointed out, numerous associates could be kept in an office containment area measuring 900 square feet.] The word “sanctuary” hardly seems to apply, as objectors pointed out at the board meeting. For that reason, too, most of those who attended the meeting were opposed to the plan. (There are probably some good nuggets in the audio of the meeting, which is available on the board’s webpage, but the quality isn’t great, and I noticed the recording is two hours long, so that’s not happening tonight.) The result, in any event, was that the board voted to recommend against approving the magician’s proposed inherently-dangerous-exotic-animal exhibition just a block from the Las Vegas Strip.

This is not the end of the matter, however. The board can only make recommendations; the county commission has the final say, and will take up the issue at its December 22 meeting. That should be another lively debate (which hopefully will be transcribed and not just recorded), but I wouldn’t bet on the outcome being any different.