Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted on Apr 22, 2017 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

ZAA Zoological Association of America

ZAA Zoological Association of America





AZA vs. ZAA. The large zoos with high standards of care in the United States are accredited by a well established and respected professionally run organization called the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, commonly known by the acronym AZA.

While AZA zoos are not “perfect” and as a sanctuary we differ in philosophy in certain ways from zoos, the important things to understand about AZA in our opinion are that they have generally established high standards of animal care, they have a strong history of providing veterinary care, they do not do cub petting or photo ops with tiger cubs or other big cat species, they breed under a science based Species Survival Plan where they track the genetic history of the animals to maintain pure bred subspecies so the animals can have some conservation value, they do not breed freak hybrids like ligers, they do not breed the genetically defective and heavily inbred white tigers.

Also important is that AZA does very intense multi-day inspections by a team of independent experts before accrediting or renewing the accreditation of a zoo, and will decline to renew an accreditation if the standards are not met.  One example is discussed below.

In contrast, ZAA (Zoological Association of America) is primary a collection of road side zoos who have chosen a name that has an acronym deceptively close to AZA.

ZAA typically claims that it is the “little guy’s AZA,” that it maintains high standards, that it does thorough independent inspections before “accrediting” member zoos, that it somehow supports or enhances conservation and education, in particular that holding baby tigers supports conservation, that there is some value to breeding freak hybrids like ligers and tigons that do not appear in nature, and that a USDA exhibitor license means the animals are treated humanely.

Upon closer examination we believe you will find that NONE of these statements are true and that ZAA is simply a clever, well marketed sham intended to give a legitimate façade to roadside zoos that regularly violate the Animal Welfare Act, support abusive practices like cub petting, breed freaks that do not occur in nature, mistreat animals and mislead the public for profit.

And, importantly, this mistreatment is totally UNNECESSARY from a business standpoint.  There are many financially successful sanctuaries and zoos that treat animals well and that provide a truly educational experience for visitors.  The claim by ZAA zoos that they need engage in activities that inherently mistreat animals like cub petting and performances in order to survive financially is contradicted by the many good operators who succeed because they do NOT engage in these abusive practices.

Below we address each of what we believe are the misrepresentations typically made by ZAA.

Standards.  One revealing example is the size of enclosure required for big cats. For two tigers AZA requires 1800 sf, the size of a small house, and a pool to swim in.  ZAA allows two tigers to spend their entire lives in a 19’ x 19’ sf concrete, chain link box, with no pool. To put this in terms of human conditions, the difference between the two standards is like the difference between living in a nice modest size house and living in a refugee camp tent. Two tigers spending their lives in the small ZAA enclosure would be like letting a domestic cat spend its entire life in a large dog carrier.  Who would consider that humane?

Inspections. As with standards, a few examples show the ZAA claim that they do meaningful inspections to be false. The inspection for acceptance into ZAA for the Wright Park Zoo took a mere 2.5 hours and was done by two individuals, one of whom was the clearly not independent vet for that zoo. The Montgomery Zoo was accredited without even the pretense of an inspection, i.e. no inspection at all.

There is simply no legitimate comparison to be made between ZAA’s minimal or nonexistent perfunctory inspections to the intense multi day, multi faceted inspections by experts done by AZA.  And AZA actually enforces its standards and will fail to renew a zoo’s accreditation for violations. This happened in 2008 to our Lowry Park Zoo here in Tampa after the zoo terminated CEO Lex Salisbury for mismanagement. Salisbury had been a long time advocate of private ownership and involved in the formation of ZAA in 2005.  To this day he is on the Board of Directors of ZAA. After his departure from Lowry the new management returned the zoo to meeting AZA standards and was reaccredited by AZA.

Dual accreditation.  One of the ways ZAA creates the illusion of legitimacy is to point to a few members who are also accredited by AZA. Why would a zoo who meets the much higher standards of AZA allow its name to be associated with a bunch of roadside zoos in ZAA?

As noted above, AZA actually enforces its standards. In particular, as evidence has mounted that most elephants suffer horribly in traditional zoo environments and AZA has raised its standards of care for elephants, a few AZA zoos do not want to comply with the elephant standards or other high AZA standards. The most often suspected reason for AZA zoos joining ZAA is to gain leverage to push back at AZA with the threat that if AZA presses them too hard to comply, the zoo will drop its AZA accreditation and only be ZAA accredited, believing, most likely correctly, that members of the public will be none the wiser due to the confusingly similar acronyms.

ZAA sometimes points to these few members who are AZA accredited as examples of the institutions they accept, misleadingly suggesting that these are representative of the ZAA population. In fact these few zoos that are also accredited by AZA are outliers, and most ZAA zoos operate far, far below AZA standards to say the least.

Conservation. ZAA claims that holding tiger cubs somehow educates people and causes them to be more concerned about conservation. In fact, the opposite is true. There is significant and growing empirical evidence that allowing people to interact with wild animals increases the public’s demand to keep those animals as pets, undermines conservation efforts by decreasing public awareness about the plight of endangered species, and decreases support for conservation programs. When true sanctuaries and good zoos give guided tours where people view adult tigers and learn about them from the guide or from audio recordings, the visitors can learn. People who are petting tiger cubs are not listening. If they learn anything at all they learn the wrong message, i.e. to want exotic animals as pets.

For more detail on cub petting see

ZAA further claims that the breeding done at its zoos has a conservation purpose. Except for breeding that may be done under the Species Survival Plan (SSP) by the few AZA accredited zoos that are in ZAA, none of ZAA’s breeding enhances conservation. To have conservation value, captive breeding of endangered tigers and other jeopardized species must be carefully managed to preserve genetic integrity, as is done under the SSP. ZAA zoos do not track the genetic history of their animals. In the case of tigers, the tigers that are rampantly bred by ZAA zoos for cub petting are all tigers of mixed subspecies, generally inbred, who are referred to as “generic,” “junk,” or “mutt” tigers and have no conservation value whatsoever. Breeding horribly inbred and genetically defective white tigers and breeding freak hybrids like ligers is also done at ZAA facilities and sends a misleading message that is inconsistent with conservation principles.

Finally, the rampant breeding of tigers and other big cats, and the lack of tracking requirements and mechanisms in the United States, impairs U.S. efforts to urge other nations to conserve the tiger in the wild. China, which seeks to legalize tiger farming, claims that raising and slaughtering tigers to supply the market for their parts will curb poaching of wild tigers. In fact, the opposite is true.   Increasing the supply by tiger farming would expand the overall market, thereby creating an increased demand for wild tiger products and providing more incentive to poach. China is able to undermine U.S. opposition to tiger farming by correctly pointing out that the U.S. has also failed to restrict the breeding and sale of privately owned captive big cats.

A few states have ZAA exemptions. ZAA likes to point to a few states that have exempted ZAA along with AZA from legislation banning private ownership of big cats. What ZAA never points to are the states like California, Texas, Louisiana and Michigan, and Clark County, Nevada, that rejected heavy lobbying efforts by ZAA, recognizing what we view as their sham “standards.” In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder rejected efforts to exempt ZAA from the law, stating that doing so “could lead to gaps in public health protection and animal welfare.”

So how did ZAA get exempted from exotic ownership bans in a few states? It started in Ohio. In 2011, after years of having no state laws on exotic animals, Ohio saw the horror of the Zanesville massacre in which Terry Thompson released over 50 dangerous animals and committed suicide and law enforcement officers had to shoot most of the animals. When Ohio decided to pass a law banning private ownership of dangerous exotic animals, Governor Kasich turned to local celebrity Jack Hanna from the Columbus Zoo for advice.

Why would Jack Hanna want to exempt ZAA? When Hanna appears on television with animals, viewers assume that his animals come from the Columbus Zoo and live there in conditions consistent with AZA standards. But it is well known among industry insiders that many of Jack Hanna’s “Ambassador Animals” used on popular late night and morning television shows do not actually come from the AZA accredited Columbus Zoo, as viewers would expect. While the animal handlers seen with Hanna are often wearing Columbus Zoo uniforms, many of these handlers do not actually work for the Columbus Zoo. They are in many cases private breeders, exotic animal owners, or from roadside zoos like ZAA zoos and from entertainment animal “brokers.”

To seek exemption in other states ZAA cleverly hired Alan Smith, its Executive Director until late last year. Smith was previously the Chairman of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) where he became very well known to state legislators and had a history of advocating for laws that diminished animal protection and safety, like so called “ag-gag” bills. Smith was a smooth talker with strong personal connections in some state legislatures and managed to leverage the Ohio law to mislead a couple other states into exempting ZAA.

A USDA license does NOT insure humane treatment. ZAA claims that USDA regulation is all that is needed to insure humane treatment. This is not true. USDA cites many bad actors, including many ZAA zoos, year after year for many years with no action except continued citations. In some cases USDA finally, after years of citations, levies a fine. The fines on average are discounted 86% from what Congress authorized. The cases most often settle for a few thousand dollars, simply a modest cost of doing business for the violators. Very, very few violators, only the very worst of the worst, lose their license. And even then, we frequently see them simply continue to operate under someone else’s license. Thousands of animals live in miserable conditions, including those at ZAA zoos, despite USDA efforts at enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act. Below is a chart showing a sampling of the kinds of serious citations almost half of the ZAA “accredited” zoos have received from USDA.

For more detail on why regulation does not work visit

Conclusion. ZAA is an organization that deserves credit for only one thing: doing a masterful job of marketing itself as an accrediting body that has high standards of animal care and enforcing them. In our view this is nothing more than a sham, providing the appearance of legitimacy to a collection of roadside zoo exploiters of animals who as a group consistently mistreat animals for profit, and not only do not foster conservation but promote activities and messages that HARM conservation.



ZAA (The Zoological Association of America), whose acronym is deceptively similar to the well respected AZA (Association of Zoos & Aquariums), misleading presents itself as the “little guy’s AZA.”


In actual fact ZAA is for the most part a collection of roadside zoos that as a group have a history of serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act like failure to provide adequate medical care. Below are a sampling of such violations and some incidents that occurred at 25 of the 61 “accredited” zoos.


1 Bearizona Williams, AZ 2016 cited for animals killed by other animals. 2014 cited repeatedly for failure to provide adequate veterinary care to sick animals and for allowing an unqualified employee to administer anesthesia. Transferred a black bear to Lee Greenly, owner of Minnesota Wildlife Connections, who had previously allowed a customer to illegally kill a captive-reared bear contained in a 3 acre enclosure with a bow-and-arrow. (Greenly’s USDA license was revoked for more than a dozen violations.)
2 California Living Museum Bakersfield, CA 2016 cited for failure to observe animals on a daily basis, failure to promptly communicate health issues with the attending veterinarian, failure to separate incompatible animals.
3 Catoctin Wildlife Preserve Thurmont, MD 2009 cited for failure to adequately train and appropriately supervise employees after a keeper who was on the job only two months was mauled by two jaguars. 2007 cited for failure to provide minimum required space to three bears.
4 Cougar Mountain Zoo Issaquah, WA 2015 USDA issued official warning for failure to provide veterinary care to an emaciated animal.
5 Gulf Breeze Zoo Gulf Breeze, FL Cited repeatedly for failing to provide sufficient public safety barriers around primate cages. Cited for an untrained and unsupervised intern who allowed the escape and subsequent death of an animal.
6 Have Trunk, Will Travel Perris, CA Cited for unsafe handling of elephants during rides. According to In Defense of Animals HTWT was caught on video viciously beating elephants, using an electric shock device, and striking a baby elephant over the head and pulling her trunk. These elephants were also observed chained for 12 hours a day, barely able to move back and forth, let alone walk.
7 Lion Habitat Ranch Henderson, NV Cited for allowing public to have unsafe contact with adult lions. 2010 cited for declawing 2 lion cubs.  Affiliated w
8 Montgomery Zoo Montgomery, AL 2014 cited for failure to provide veterinary care to newborn rhino that subsequently died. 2012 cited for failure to provide minimum space to a black bear kept in a cage where the bear could not even stand upright on her hind legs. 2013 visitor scratched by jaguar. 2014 fined $8107 by USDA for the escape of a tiger and a hyena from poorly maintained cages, a barn fire that killed to animals, allowing unsupervised contact with animals in the petting zoo, and failure to repair rusty primate cages. Accredited with no inspection at all.
9 Myrtle Beach Safari Myrtle Beack, SC AKA T.I.G.E.R.S. Kevin Antle. 2016 cited for failure to have an adequate veterinary care program for a recurring problem of tiger cubs infected with ringworm. (Ringworm is typically caused by filthy conditions and is highly contagious to humans.) US Fish & Wildlife Service denied application to export and re-import 18 tigers to and from Mexico citing, among other things, substandard conditions.

One of the most notorious cub petting operations, supplier of cubs to other cub petting operations. Warehouses tigers in box stalls in a horse barn.

10 Oswald’s Bear Ranch Newberry, MI Cited for using physical abuse on bear cubs used for photo ops and for allowing children to have unsafe contact with the bears.
11 Panther Ridge Conservation Center Wellington, FL 2010 jaguar tore off woman’s thumb. 2008 owner Judy Behrens attacked by two cheetahs during fund raising event and airlifted to hospital. 2009 cited for declawing two clouded leopards.
12 Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium Pittsburgh, PA 2016 cited for failure to provide seas lions with shade and unhealthy chlorine levels in their pool, both of which may contribute to long history of sea lions with painful eye disorders at the facility.  An internal USDA document contained a list identifying facilities with animals who were at risk of tuberculosis due to exposure to Hawthorn’s elephants including Pittsburgh Zoo.
13 Safari Niagara Stevensville, Ontario, Canada 2008 fined $2000 after pleading guilty to making a false statement to a conservation officer regarding native wildlife kept at the facility.
14 Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Vallejo, CA Cited for unsafe public contact with an elephant. 2014 several university students bitten during petting session with 3 month old lion cubs. 2014 cited for the deaths of two dolphin calves apparently related to poor water.
15 Southwick’s Zoo Mendon, MA Used for public rides an elephant named Judy from the notorious Hawthorn Corporation. Judy had previously almost killed people on a rampage at a church event. A few years later all of Hawthorn’s elephants were seized for abuse. In 2010, another performing elephant named Dondi became ill and died at the Southwick’s Zoo at the young age of 33. She had been housed alone at Southwick’s and forced to do tricks for audiences. A necropsy revealed that Dondi’s molars had fallen out and that her lungs were riddled with tuberculosis, which is transmissible to humans.
As of 2015, Southwick’s had contracted with a California-based elephant rental company, “Have Trunk Will Travel,” to provide elephant rides at the zoo. According to In Defense of Animals HTWT was caught on video viciously beating elephants, using an electric shock device, and striking a baby elephant over the head and pulling her trunk. These elephants were also observed chained for 12 hours a day, barely able to move back and forth, let alone walk.
16 Tanganyika Wildlife Park Goddard, KS Cited for allowing lemur to have contact with human infant
17 Triple D Game Farm Kalispell, MT 2013 Cited for declawing 2 month old tiger cub. Dealt w/ Big Cats of Serenity Springs.
18 Two Tails Ranch Williston, FL Owned by circus. 2013 woman hospitalized for months with life threatening injuries after attack by elephant. Zoo failed to report the attack, fined $857.
19 Virginia Safari Park Natural Bridge, VA 2016 10 year old girl hospitalized from camel bite. Settled for $155k.
20 Wild Wonders Bonsall, CA Cited repeatedly for failure to provide animals with minimum space, filthy rodent infested conditions and feeding a diseased goat carcass to wolves.
21 Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium Litchfield Park, AZ 2016 cited for failure to provide supplemental heat to 59 primates housed outdoors in 36 degree temperature – numerous primates were huddled together shivering. Cited for failure to provide adequate shelter from the cold, filthy and rodent infested conditions, inadequate public safety barriers, and inadequate veterinary care. 2015 cited for concealing areas that contained regulated species from the inspector, failure to have staff present while visitors were having contact with giraffes and kangaroos, filthy cages, enclosures in disrepair, unsanitary feeding practices, filthy water receptacles, and housing animals near a foul-smelling garbage dump.
22 Wright Park Zoo Dodge City, KS 40 USDA citations including failure to provide veterinary care, cages in disrepair, repeatedly failing to have an adequate enrichment plan for primates, poor sanitation, failure to provide any bedding during bitterly cold temperatures to wolf dogs. 2015 USDA issued official warning.

Accredited by ZAA based on an inspection that only took 2.5 hours with one of two inspectors being the zoo’s own veterinarian, i.e. clearly not “independent.”

23 Zoo at Forest Park Springfield, MA 2015 the public learned of two likely preventable primate deaths.  A marmoset died from injuries sustained in a fight with other monkeys, and a tamarin died from exposure to cold temperatures after the zoo failed to have a back-up generator when an electrical malfunction shut off power to a heating system. In June 2016, a monkey named Dizzy escaped the zoo after a distracted employee failed to lock the enclosure. He roamed the zoo grounds for 3 days before being safely recaptured.
24 Zoo World Zoological and Botanical Conservatory Panama City Beach, FL 2015 8 year old boy scratched and bitten by lemur. Cited for insufficient safety barriers around primates and big cats. 2015 cited for failure to provide relief from excessive heat to primates showing signs of heat exhaustion on a day when the heat index was 115 degrees in the shade. 2014 cited for failure to fed a veterinarian-approved diet to adult big cats and cubs, failure to provide environmental enrichment to a solitary lemur, failure to provide a sufficient public safety barrier around a kangaroo enclosure, and housing two newly acquired tiger cubs at locations that had not been inspected and approved. 2013 cited for staff ignoring instructions from the veterinarian including feeding sugary foods to a diabetic monkey, failing for months to provide supplements to squirrel monkeys suffering from calcium deficiency, feeding a lion the morning after anesthesia interfering with veterinarian’s ability to evaluate the lion’s condition, and inadequate drainage in a lion’s cage that resulted in an anesthetized lion being dropped by staff while wading through knee deep mud causing an extremely painful injury that led to the lion’s euthanasia. 2016 USDA issued official warning for repeated failure to adequately clean and sanitize primate cages, repeated failure to maintain cages, and inadequate public safety barriers.
25 Zoosiana – Zoo of Acadiana Broussard, LA 2009 USFWS denied a Captive-Bred Wildlife registration application citing inadequate space and lack of cage furnishings.


Read More

Posted on Apr 19, 2017 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Amazing Animals Jim Clubb Heythrop Zoological Gardens

Amazing Animals Jim Clubb Heythrop Zoological Gardens

Jim Clubb’s Heythrop Zoological Gardens (d.b.a. “Amazing Animals”)

“Amazing Animals” is the largest privately-owned collection of exotic animals in the UK, and one of the country’s only licensed providers of exotic wildlife for commercials, TV, movies, and advertisements. Their facility has the nice-sounding name of “Heythrop Zoological Gardens” but, except for six “open days” per year, it is not open to the public and does not have to comply with zoo laws and regulations.

Ties with the circus industry:

Amazing  Animals is owned and directed by Jim Clubb. Clubb is a longtime circus lion trainer, chairman of the Association of Circus Proprietors of Great Britain (ACP) and is married to Sally Chipperfield, of the infamous Chipperfield circus dynasty. Clubb got his start training animals while working for the Chipperfields and was once part-owner and managing director of Clubb-Chipperfield, his own company that shared premises with Chipperfield’s circus in 1998.

Clubb’s close ties with the Chipperfields are very concerning because while he was working with them, the directors of Chipperfield Enterprises were convicted of animal cruelty in 1999 after undercover investigations by Animal Defenders International revealed that they routinely used severe physical abuse  to “train” their circus animals. ADI obtained footage of the Chipperfields beating lions and tigers with metal crowbars and pipes, whipping a sick elephant, beating camels with broom handles, and mercilessly thrashing a baby chimpanzee named Trudy with a riding crop while taunting the crying animal.

The Chipperfield’s “litany of crimes against animals” were so shocking that the circus was shut down and the horrific footage convinced the UK government to ban the use of wild animals in circus acts nationwide (a ban which started in 2015).

Despite the ban and the folding of the circus, Clubb continues to use his Amazing Animals business to train and sell big cats to circuses in other countries, and he makes his cats give circus-like “performances” to guests during the six days per year his facility is open to the public — if it were open any longer than that, it would have to be regulated like a zoo. This 2010 blog post by Clubb includes photos of him wielding long sticks to train a batch of white lions in a dark, dungeon-like room.

The lions were shipped to a circus in Japan once their training was complete, where one of them was attacked by other circus lions and was so stressed his mane fell out. The circus folk in the comments pointed out that the sticks are called “forks” and “are for lifting an animal off of another animal or used to pin an animal down.”

Amazing Animals Jim Clubb's Heythrop Zoological Gardens

Undercover photo of Jim Clubb with his circus lions at one of Amazing Animals’ “open days.”

In 2012, there was national outrage after an investigation by the Captive Animals’ Protection Society and LionAid revealed that these lions were born at the West Midlands Safari Park, which claimed to be a reputable zoo breeding the white lions for “conservation”. An article about this has been reproduced below. It fails to mention that the West Midlands Safari Park was founded by Jimmy Chipperfield (a relative of Clubb’s wife), that the current director of the Park is a former circus performer,  and that Clubb’s lion act had previously performed at the Kinoshita circus where the cubs were sent. LionAid has more details about the circus connections in this case.

Fury as rare white lion cubs born in UK safari park are sent to a Japanese circus

By Anna Edwards

Published: 05:28 EDT, 27 November 2012 | Updated: 09:06 EDT, 27 November 2012

Four rare white lion cubs born in a UK safari park have been sent to perform in a Japanese circus after being trained in a British facility.

The cubs were born at West Midlands Safari Park, in Bewdley, Worcester, in 2008 but will spend their adult lives entertaining crowds in the Far East.

Animal rights charities have expressed outrage after discovering they were flown 6,000 miles to Japan’s Circus Kinoshita.

The safari park has been criticised for providing four rare white lion cubs to a businessman who provided them to a Japanese circus.

It is understood one of the lions has since moved to a zoo in western Japan after it developed a nervous condition which caused its mane to fall out.

The animals were given to British businessman Jim Clubb who runs Amazing Animals, which also goes by the name Heythrop Zoological Gardens, in Chipping Norton, Oxon.

Undercover video footage taken by Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS) and Lion Aid taken in 2010 appears to show Clubb training the lion cubs during an open day at his firm.

Months later the same lions were seen performing for a Japanese circus.

Amazing Animals Japan

Animal rights groups are furious that the rare lions have ended up in Circus Kinoshita in Japan

Amazing Animals Circus

Animal entertainment: The white lions are shown on the circus website, promoting the show

The Kinoshita Circus website boasts that four white lions currently being used in shows were all born in a UK zoo and trained at a UK site.

It states: ‘When they became six months old, they were moved to an animal training facility in UK.

‘They began training there when they were 18 months old.’

A Japanese investigator working for CAPS discovered one of the lions has been moved to a zoo in the west of the country after it was attacked by the other circus animals.

The lion is reported to have developed a ‘nervous disease called autonomic ataxia’ causing his mane to completely fall out.

Animal rights campaigners have criticized the safari park for allowing the lions to end up in a circus.

The four cubs were among eight born at West Midlands Safari Park in Bewdley in 2008 and sent to Amazing Animals of Chipping Norton, Oxon, aged six months

CAPS director Liz Tyson said: ‘The current Government has promised an outright ban on the use of wild animals in circuses as a result of overwhelming public, expert and parliamentary support.

‘And yet here we have a zoo apparently providing lion cubs to this cruel and unethical trade via a middleman, whilst publicising their work to their paying visitors as based in conservation and welfare.

‘It is an appalling betrayal of those people that trust the zoo to protect and care for the animals.

‘But most importantly, it is an appalling betrayal of the lion cubs who appear to have been abandoned to this hopeless fate by West Midland Safari Park.’

An investigation by CAPS claim the safari park has close ties with Clubb’s animal entertainment business.

In 2007 Clubb appeared on the zoo’s own TV channel talking about his company which provides animals to the entertainment industry.

Jim Clubb, owner of Amazing Animals, yesterday confirmed he had provided the lions to the circus – saying it was “business.” He said: “We did receive the lion cubs from West Midlands Safari Park and provided them to the circus in Japan.”

“There is nothing illegal or underhand about this whatsoever. I will not discuss our financial arrangements but we are a business of course.”

“I have no idea whether West Midlands Safari Park knew the lions would be going to the circus, that is a matter for them. I will not go into the arrangement we have with them.”

The safari park – which attracts 1.3 million visitors each year – confirmed they had “sent” white lions to Clubb “in good faith.”

Safari park spokeswoman Wendy Jackson said: “West Midland Safari Park sent white lions to Heythrop Zoological Gardens in good faith and were unaware of any subsequent moves.”


Animal Welfare Issues:

This circus fan blog has posted 3 videos of Jim Clubb “working” his big cats in the studio with bamboo canes, which he uses to poke and prod the cats and to replicate the sound of a whip.

In the first video, a tiger in the studio appears to be very stressed (panting, ears back) as Clubb touches it with the canes. Clubb claims that the tiger is “stressed out by the blue screen.”

The second video shows an agitated 10-year-old lion, King, growling and swiping at Clubb during an ad shoot in the noisy studio. Clubb’s voiceover reassures the viewers that King “really looks forward to this” and that training “stimulates” the animals and is “an extension of their play.” Odd, since the cat ran out of the studio as fast as he could once the door was opened. Maybe he wasn’t having fun, after all.

In the last video, poor King is forced to perform again because the cameraman “missed” the first shot, even though the crew knows that King is already agitated and probably doesn’t want any more filming.  Just like human actors, movie and TV animals are forced to do the same shot again and again until the director is pleased — only the animals don’t understand or have a choice in the matter. King comes out snarling and angry, the crew gets their shot, and  Clubb happily proclaims that “the only thing that matters is that the director’s happy.” Not the animal. The director.

The Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS) has done several recent investigations of Amazing Animals and has produced lots of photos, videos, and notes about the facility for you to look through.

In late 2016, one of their investigators  attended  an “open day” at Amazing Animals in 2016 and wrote a blog post about what s/he saw, complete with plenty of pictures. Excerpts from the investigator’s blog are reproduced below:

As commonly seen in captive wild animals, stereotypical (stress-induced) behaviour was observed in a number of those kept at the zoo. Wolves, a lone hyena, hippos, tigers, and meerkats were all viewed pacing repeatedly up and down the sides of their enclosures.”

“Of all the animals we saw, the tigers – in particular the white tiger, appeared the most distressed. The white tiger paced back and forth repeatedly in front of a window in the side of the enclosure which visitors crowded around.”

“Next two tigers were brought out by Jim Clubb, the owner of Amazing Animals, and made to move around the enclosed studio space, jumping from podiums, roaring on command etc. One tiger in particular appeared quite stressed with their ears flat back and making a lot of noise. The “trainer” used long sticks to order the cats around, pointing and hitting them together behind the animals. Jim then brought two male lions. While I know that watching wild animals being made to perform is always difficult, I was still overwhelmed by the sadness of seeing such huge, powerful, sentient beings oppressed to the point of submission by a human who seemed so proud of what he had done. These magnificent animals could have maimed the trainers in a heartbeat, but through whatever method, they had been forced to submit and obey commands.”

“Again, there was no attempt to provide any educational information about the animals themselves, their biology or conservation. This show was purely about how the animals were trained for and used in the entertainment industry to make money for the owners of Amazing Animals.”

As a result of the CAPS investigation, a scathing news article was published detailing the increasing disgust within the TV industry and UK politics towards Amazing Animals. From the article:

Campaigners said footage taken at one open day suggested the animals were “broken, mentally disturbed and miserable.”

“BBC naturalist Chris Packham called the company ‘appalling, abominable’ and ‘morally bankrupt’. The host of Springwatch and Autumnwatch has told corporation bosses he refuses to have anything to do with Jim Clubb, the owner of Amazing Animals, after hearing ‘nothing but negative reports’ from people who have filmed there.”

‘The fact that this is going on in the UK today is appalling,’ [Packham] said. “The beating of sticks at tigers in front of an audience is likely to be done to replicate the sound of a whip. This is abominable.”

” Henry Smith MP, Tory co-chairman of the All-Party Group on Animal Welfare, said he was concerned after seeing the CAPS evidence and called for the law to be tightened. He said: ‘Asking big cats to do tricks is an outdated practice that has echoes of Edwardian circuses.’”

“Labour’s Jim Fitzpatrick said: ‘Wild cats performing tricks is neither natural, nor dignified nor appropriate in the 21st century.’

Safety Concerns:

One of the photos taken by CAPS shows a distressed white tiger pawing at one of the cracked glass windows of her enclosure. The cracks were “fixed” by painting jungle vines on top of them, posing a potential safety risk to the visitors crowded around the window.

In an interview for the book Let The Credits Roll: Interviews with Film Crew, Clubb admits that he “was bitten very badly by a puma on a TV commercial once, but that was the director’s fault and mine, because I should have just said, “No,” but the director wanted us to do more and more.”


Other News Articles:

Amazing Animals regularly takes exotic animals to local events, hospitals, and nursing homes as a “public service.” But conservationists, legitimate zoos, and even the general public aren’t always pleased:

Anger as penguins and monkeys visit Kingland House Residential Home

Oxfordshire bear cub show appearance on despite protests


Read More

Posted on Apr 17, 2017 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Hollywood Animals

Hollywood Animals

Hollywood Animals

Brian McMillan, Eric Weld

Hollywood Animals is a Santa Clarita, CA exotic animal rental business which trains big cats and other exotics and then “rents them out” for special events, movies, TV, and advertising. They make the dangerous claim that their big cats are perfectly “safe” working with untrained actors and operate a bogus “Exotic Animal Training School” which promises to turn paying members of the public into animal trainers in just two weeks via reportedly illegal and extremely dangerous hands-on interactions with their adult big cats and bears.

Hollywood Animals was founded in 1984 by Ringling Bros. lion trainer Brian McMillan and is currently owned and operated by Eric and Bettina Weld. They have operated under multiple names, including “Animal Rentals Unlimited, Inc” and “Brian McMillan’s Animal Rentals.” Their USDA license has also covered McMillan and Weld’s fairground shows “Walking With Lions” and “Brian McMillan’s Wild World of Tigers.” McMillan has boasted that one of his lions “could bring in $2,500 per day for filming, while the rare white lion could fetch $10,000 per day.”

Hollywood Animals has been written up by federal inspectors for failure to maintain records on euthanized/transferred big cats, failure to provide animals with potable water, withholding food from animals, and endangering the public by selling hands-on animal encounters with large carnivores in direct defiance of multiple USDA orders. They have also had at least two animals escape from their facility.

Brian McMillan

Brian McMillan Lion


Brian McMillan comes from a family of circus animal trainers. According to his personal website:

“Brian McMillan started his career by apprenticing to numerous circus animal trainers in Europe. He worked for Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus as an animal trainer under the renowned animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams. A few years later [he] was recruited by Africa USA and began working in the film industry as an exotic animal trainer. He worked for Resorts International and was the youngest director of Animal shows at Marine World Africa USA where he performed and trained all the animals for the shows, and supervised their care. He continued his career as an animal trainer, coordinator for live entertainment and for the film industry worldwide from North America, India, Australia to Africa. He transported hundred of exotics animals by air and sea as well as setting up facilities while on location.”

Both Ringling Bros. and Marine World Africa USA have appalling records of animal abuse, and McMillan’s mentor, Gunther Gebel-Williams, has been caught whipping animals in the face, striking elephants with bullhooks, and as director of Animal Welfare for Ringling Bros., ignoring veterinary advice by forcing extremely sick animals to perform until they died (and then covering up the deaths).

McMillan himself was a lion trainer for Ringling Bros. starting in 1970. His group of 7 lionesses and one male lion were forced to jump through flaming hoops, stand on their hind legs, play “leapfrog,” and dance. McMillan toured with his group of performing lions in Ringling’s Gold Unit in 2010.

Videos of his performances with Ringling show stressed lionesses being whipped and poked with pointed sticks as they swatted and snarled at him with ears pinned back and

a panicked lioness frantically trying to escape a tiny cage while being used as a prop in a noisy magic act.

After the show, all 7 lionesses were crammed into a tiny transport cage where they were seen pacing in tight circles.

Brian McMillan Travel Cage

McMillan’s 7 lionesses pacing in their tiny transport crate after a 2010 Ringling show.

Brian McMillan Lion Fire

McMillan’s lion jumping through a flaming hoop at a circus.

Brian McMillan Tiger Elephant

One of McMillan’s animal acts at Marine World Africa USA.

Brian McMillan appears to have a cavalier attitude about the danger his big cats pose to himself and others, as evidenced by his willingness to let members of the public interact with his tigers and his reassurances that the cats are “perfectly safe” to use in full-contact scenes with untrained actors. Like so many private owners, he claims that his animals would never hurt anyone because of the “bond” he feels he has with them. This article describes him “playing around with an [adult] white lion named “Lufuno,” pulling on his tail and limbs as the lion playfully bats at him with his huge paws. McMillan said he doesn’t fear being attacked, because of the relationship they have. “We’re like brothers.” McMillan said.” With this attitude, the fact that Hollywood Animals hasn’t had a serious incident speaks more to luck than to “safety.”

This video, uploaded by McMillan to promote Lufuno,  reveals that the lion was purchased as a cub from a park in South Africa (which probably told tourists that they were “conserving lions.”) It includes footage of McMillan holding a whip and a wooden rod while working with Lufuno, and an inexplicable scene of one of McMillan’s associates riding on the lion’s back, which can’t possibly be good for the cat’s spine.

Brian McMillan Ride White Lion

In 2013, after leaving Hollywood Animals in the hands of Eric Weld, McMillan moved his lions to a suburban Southern Oregon property, within a 1 mile radius of approximately 5,000 homes and 4 schools, including an elementary school. He intended to continue renting them out for film work and opened a bed and breakfast called “Walking With Lions,” where guests could view and feed the lions through the chainlink fence. But because the property was not zoned for “commercial use” of exotic animals, McMillan was forced to move back to California in 2015.

Brian McMillan Walk With Lions

McMillan’s former “Walking with Lions” facility in suburban Oregon. Note the houses in the background.

Eric Weld

Eric Weld

Eric Weld originally worked in advertising. One day, he visited a set where McMillan was working with big cats and decided to become an animal trainer himself. He joined Hollywood Animals as an intern in 2001, became a partner in 2004, and eventually gained full ownership of the company. Weld currently owns and trains all of the animals at Hollywood Animals. Weld has spoken up in support of the “right” for private owners to house tigers in residential areas. He also opposes a proposed Los Angeles law which would ban all exotic animal performances/displays (with the exception of AZA zoos and filming) within city limits because it would prevent Hollywood Animals from providing “education through sight” by renting out caged big cats as party props. The planned law was introduced by city councilman David Ryu, who is disturbed by the trend of Hollywood Hills house parties using caged lions and tigers as display pieces. “Treating animals in this manner has taught generations of people that it’s okay to view these wild and exotic animals at toys,” said Ryu. “And I felt that Los Angeles must take an action to make clear that exhibiting animals in this way was no longer in line with our city’s values.”


Animal Welfare/Public Safety Issues

Hollywood Animals claims to use the nice-sounding “affection training” to train their big cats.

But this video uploaded by Brian McMillan reveals that “affection training” means ripping newborn cubs from their mothers and bottle raising them in a home so the cubs are forced to “bond” to trainers instead.  Eric Weld has continued this practice and has confirmed that cubs are usually purchased from private breeders. McMillan and Weld claim that the unnatural imprinting process creates “a close relationship based on trust and respect,”  and that it allows his adult big cats to have full contact with untrained cast and crew “with complete safety,” a dangerous lie.

Brian McMillan Cub Pacifier

A baby pacifier is a cruel replacement for this cross-eyed cub’s mother. Photo from McMillan’s Youtube channel.

Although Hollywood Animals advertises “humanely trained animals,” videos taken at their compound routinely show McMillan and Weld training and “working” the big cats with whips, rods, and pointed sticks in hand, just like during McMillan’s circus days.

Brian McMillan Lion Training

McMillan at Hollywood Animals, training lions to stand on their hind legs by waving a whip over their heads.


USDA Reports:

PETA has archived all of Hollywood Animals’ USDA inspection reports from 1994-2015. Here are some particularly notable citations:

September 2000:


  • “Records indicate that a juvenile lion died on 8-4-00. There are no records indicating any veterinary problems or disease indications prior to death. Licensee stated animal was euthanized, but no reasons were documented orally or in writing.”
  • “Lion Romeo is no longer at facility. There are no records indicating disposition of animal.”
    Note: This is not the same “Romeo” that was beaten by Sid Yost, another Hollywood trainer.

July 2001:

  • “Interior portion of [lion] enclosures consists of chain link caging, in a barn room. This caging is fastened to the wall only by “plumbers tape” (metal strapping attached by screws). This is not structurally adequate for full size lions.”

October 2002:


  • “Lion Rafiki shows general lameness when moving, as well as a reluctance to move. Some records are available regarding this condition, but they are not complete. There is no veterinary evaluation of the animals current condition, including a prognosis or treatment plan, if any.”


  • “Note board in upper compound had a note stating that food was to be withheld on 10-23-02 from a specific animal, as it was working the next day, 10-24-02. Such deprivation of the entire diet for a day does not meet the handling requirement.” 


(Note: in a later inspection, an employee claimed that this wasn’t for training and that they simply shifted the animal’s “fast day” so that it wouldn’t conflict with its working day.)



  • “Enclosure housing 4 tiger cubs has one shelter box. This box would barely accommodate all 4 cubs, and any incompatibility could result in an animal without shelter from cold.”


  • “Water available to animals was cloudy and did not appear potable. Employee stated water is changed every other day. This schedule does not appear adequate to ensure animals have access to potable water as required.”



August 2005:



  • An inspector visiting Hollywood Animals’ compound found the gate to the perimeter fence left open and no employees present. She wrote: “Unauthorized persons could clearly have had contact with dangerous animals in the facility. Failure to use the perimeter gates when the facility is unattended could result in injury to the animals or unauthorized persons.”



March 2008:



  • Tiger enclosure pool water was green, semi-opaque, and the bottom of the pool could not be seen through the water.”

Other Issues:

A “behind the scenes” site for a Bollywood film that used Hollywood Animals’ tigers reported that one of the cats had to be exposed to blasting loud rock music “or she wouldn’t perform.”  This site also includes pictures of Weld carrying a bamboo rod while working with the tiger on-set.

In 2012, students of Loyola Marymount University were shocked to find a live male lion sweltering in a small cage in the middle of their campus on an 80 degree day. The lion, a 13-year-old male named “Felix,” was hired from Hollywood Animals by a student group as a “special surprise” to represent their university mascot.  According to this article, Weld bought Felix from a breeder in Minnesota when he was 3 months old and trained him like a dog to wear clothes, and work with other animals and people. He has worked in feature films such as Evan Almighty, We Bought A Zoo, and in a Chase Bank Commercial that is currently airing.” Although many students were disgusted by the stunt, the people who rented the lion claimed that because Felix is a “movie lion” and not from a zoo, “he’s used to this kind of stuff.”

Brian McMillan Lion Hot Cage

Felix sweltering in a cage at LMU.

Here are several videos of Felix being used as an ego prop in the yard of a mansion for a DJ Khaled rap album. For a brief moment in one of them, you can see Weld lunging towards Felix (“contained” by a thin electric fence) with a pointed metal stick.

Here’s a video, uploaded by McMillan himself, of Felix being taken out of his cage by handlers wielding sticks before being dressed up in a demeaning, clown-like party hat, bowtie, and bib for a commercial shoot.

In the mid to late 1990s, several wallaroos escaped Hollywood Animals’ compound, confusing local residents. This article also mentions that although Hollywood Animals is “not technically open to the public they have seminars, private parties, corporate events, and animal training courses and classes. According to their website, the seminars cost $100 per person or $190 per couple and last for about 4 hours. You would be in a group of about 20 to 30 people and get a behind the scene look at the animals.”  This is likely a reference to the bogus “animal training seminars” where McMillan allows the general public to pay big bucks for the (illegal) opportunity to pet and pose with his adult big cats and bears, despite repeated USDA orders not to do so.

In this 2011 article, a journalist who visited Hollywood Animals took part in their 16-and-up “trainer for a day” program, overseen by Eric Weld in direct defiance of two USDA orders to cease public contact with dangerous carnivores. In a shocking disregard for public safety, Weld allowed the journalist to enter the enclosure of an unrestrained 350 lb. tiger and give “sit and stay” commands to the cat, before having him feed a 600 lb. grizzly bear named Bam Bam marshmallows and gummy bears out of his mouth (Weld warned “if you pull away at the last second, Bam Bam will claw at the marshmallow — and your mouth”).

Brian McMillan Bear

An untrained journalist “kisses” a grizzly bear at Eric Weld’s compound. Does this look like a good idea?

In 2009, Hollywood Animals applied for US Fish and Wildlife Service permits to travel overseas with 2 leopards for the purported purpose of “enhancement of the species through conservation education.”  The real purpose, of course, was movie filming.

In 1994, Hollywood Animals sold 5 leopards and a tiger to the Animal Actors Agency in London, which billed itself as “Europe’s leading supplier of animals to the television and film industries.”


Fairground exhibits

Around 2007, Brian McMillan loaded eight lions (7 females and 1 male) into a 33 foot long stainless steel travel trailer and took them on the fairground circuit with his  “Walking with Lions” show. The show, which is now defunct, dragged the lions across North America to 10-12 performances per season, some as far away as Winnepeg and Hawaii. It was essentially McMillan’s circus act with a thin veneer of “educational” content used to justify the unnatural tricks the cats were being forced to do. The lions jumped through hoops to “demonstrate their agility” and showed “an example of teamwork” by all standing on their hind legs simultaneously as McMillan snapped a whip over their heads. When not performing, the lions were housed in a 48 foot long “display trailer” to be gawked at by fairgoers. According to the official website of the show, McMillan charged over $10,000 to each fair that hosted his lions.

One of the stated purposes of “Walking with Lions” was to show off  “interaction between man and lion and the personal relationship the trainers have with each lion.”

In this video of a fairground performance, we see a trainer frequently hugging the adult male lion (when not prodding the cat with a stick to force him to stand on platforms in the noisy arena). Although this show was promoted to fairs as “educational,” the only thing it taught people is that lions, which are threatened in the wild, are nothing more than harmless pets that exist for our entertainment.  In the previous video, we overhear audience members saying, “He’s friendly!” as they watched the trainer hug a lion, and children interviewed after the performance explained that the lion “looks so lovable” and that the show “was more fun than a zoo” because “here they were doing tricks, and at the zoo they were just lying down.”

Lufuno, McMillan's prized white lion, during a fairground performance.

Lufuno, McMillan’s prized white lion, during a fairground performance.

Lionesses were made to "dance" and jump on platforms to "demonstrate the lion's agility."

Lionesses were made to "dance" and jump on platforms to "demonstrate the lion's agility."

Lionesses were made to “dance” and jump on platforms to “demonstrate the lion’s agility.”

This trick was explained as "a demonstration of lioness teamwork."

This trick was explained as “a demonstration of lioness teamwork.”

Unhappy lionesses refusing to perform are nudged with pointed sticks and cracking whips, as shown in a promotional video for the show. Ironically, McMillan's voiceover during this footage explains how his lions "love to perform."

Unhappy lionesses refusing to perform are nudged with pointed sticks and cracking whips, as shown in a promotional video for the show. Ironically, McMillan's voiceover during this footage explains how his lions "love to perform."

Unhappy lionesses refusing to perform are nudged with pointed sticks and cracking whips, as shown in  a promotional video for the show. Ironically, McMillan’s voiceover during this footage explains how his lions “love to perform.”

Brian McMillan Transport Trailer

The 33 foot long trailer used by Brian McMillan to haul 8 lions to fairs as far away as Hawaii and Winnipeg.
In 2008, McMillan and Weld created a similar traveling act which included tigers, called “Brian McMillan’s Wild World of Tigers.” It does not seem to have lasted very long and only appeared at a handful of CA fairs. Like “Walking with Lions,” the purpose of this 3 performance a day “educational” show was to “show the relationship between us and the tigers.” So, naturally, Weld admits that during the show’s question-and-answer period, ““The most frequent is, ‘Can I pet them?'”

Brian McMillan Tigers At Fair

Caged tigers at the 2008 Gold Country Fair.



Hollywood Animals’ cats are routinely portrayed by directors and advertisers as luxury “pets” or props. Not only is this exploitative and disrespectful to the animal, it also promotes the private ownership of big cats and has been scientifically proven to decrease concern for endangered species conservation by distorting the public’s perception of wildlife (see this Harvard study and this scientific journal article). Below are just a few of the ads in Hollywood Animals’ portfolio:

A chained black leopard posing with a model for a Harpers Bazaar photoshoot in 2013.

A chained black leopard posing with a model for a Harpers Bazaar photoshoot in 2013.

This live lion (probably Felix) was used as a prop in a Beyonce music video.

This live lion (probably Felix) was used as a prop in a Beyonce music video.

One of Hollywood Animals' tigers in a Nike ad.

One of Hollywood Animals’ tigers in a Nike ad.

Felix again, being treated as a pet in an ad for Ritz-Carlton.

Felix again, being treated as a pet in an ad for Ritz-Carlton.

Brian McMillan Black Leopard Chained Set

“Nikki,” a black leopard, on set.


Hollywood Animals is based from a rural 8-acre compound in Tick Canyon, Santa Clarita, CA. If these pictures from McMillan’s website and videos are anything to go by, the cats live in fairly barren chain-link enclosures devoid of vegetation.

In this video, you can see leopards pacing in rows of small concrete-floored pens.

Brian McMillan Barren Cages Brian McMillan Barren Cages Brian McMillan Barren Cages Brian McMillan Barren Cages Brian McMillan Barren Cages

An overhead view of Hollywood Animals. Is that a tiger to the left of the red ball in the center pen?


Animal Encounters:

Photos of the public being put at risk by Hollywood Animals’ illegal “trainer for a day” programs, “private animal encounters,”  and bogus “seminars,” taken from their archived promotional website. Program participants, some as young as 12 years old, have paid McMillan and Weld anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars for the dangerous privilege of patting and “working with” their large carnivores, despite having  had no previous training or experience whatsoever.  The experience was advertised as an “animal lover’s dream” and participants were urged to “bring your kids.”  Some of these photos were taken as recently as 2007, and Weld mentioned in a 2009 article that  “about one to four people a month pay the $600 for a personal animal encounter, usually with bears or tigers.” Profit, not safety, is clearly the motive here, and despite USDA orders to stop endangering the public in this manner, there is evidence that these dangerous encounters are still being sold by Weld “under the table”. What company would want to work with a business that has such clear disregard for human safety?

Brian McMillan Unsafe Wild Animal Handling Brian McMillan Unsafe Wild Animal Handling Brian McMillan Unsafe Wild Animal Handling Brian McMillan Unsafe Wild Animal Handling Brian McMillan Unsafe Wild Animal Handling Brian McMillan Unsafe Wild Animal Handling Brian McMillan Unsafe Wild Animal Handling Brian McMillan Unsafe Wild Animal Handling



Also goes by the name Brian McMillan and tours under the name Walking With Lions at fairs.

2015 Update:  Brian and Vikki McMillan packed up their lions and moved back to California after being denied permits to continue using the lions for commercial gain in Oregon.  The news article did not say where the lions were going.  Maybe back to the P.O. Box?

Hollywood Animals
P.O. Box 2088 (really?  you keep lions and tigers in a P.O. Box?)
Santa Clarita, CA 91386
Tel: 323-665-9500 Fax: 661-252-4509
Cell: 213-842-2170

2014 address:
1902 Houston Road Phoenix, OR where Brian McMillan has requested that the Jackson County Development Services interpret his breeding and commercialization of wild animals to be permitted under “farm use.”  The application says he plans to bring 7 lions and assorted other wild animals from Canyon County, CA to Jackson County, OR.  This 41 ac site borders or is within a 1 mile radius of 5,000 approximately residences, businesses and 4 schools.

According to those who live in the area, the real disgrace is that none of the schools, library, the police, the sheriff’s department, fire chief, retailers nor residents were informed that a wild animal attraction was opening in their neighborhood.  It has been suggested that the Jackson County Development Services may have tried to block McMillan from bringing the lions under the “farm use” loophole, but that McMillan is stating that USDA gives him the right to have them; so no one can stop him.

This is a common ploy used by those who own exotic cats to circumvent local prohibitions on big cats as pets.   A one page application and $40.00 can get them a USDA license, which makes them “an exhibitor” or a “breeder” thus circumventing laws that prevent their “pets.”  In 2010 the Office of the Inspector General audited USDA and found that of the licensees, who held four or fewer big cats, 70% were just pet owners who obtained this easy-to-get license in order to get around local bans.  This is why we need a federal ban on the private possession of big cats.

Hard to believe anyone could think there would be anything good or redeeming about a place that rents out lions, tigers or any other wild animal.


2008 USDA Violations


2009 USDA Violations


2011 USDA Violations



Nov 13, 2013  PHOENIX, Ore. — Giraffes, zebras, and even some lions, are moving in next door to a Phoenix neighborhood. The owner says the animals will bring big business to the Southern Oregon town, but others have concerns about how close the animals are to people.

A Hollywood animal trainer says he wants to bring the operation to Southern Oregon because he loves the land and loves the climate. The 41 acre property sits near homes, schools and businesses, and Oregon laws about exotic species allow them to be there.

North Houston Road is like many areas in Phoenix, home to scattered neighborhoods, farms, and businesses. Coming next year, that area gets some wild new tenants. Hollywood animal trainer Brian McMillan is moving his operation from Southern California to Phoenix, where he will raise and train several exotic animals, and put on educational programs.

“We will have programs here where we can have school kids in, and also members of the public who are interested in learning about game farming,” says McMillan.

He plans to bring those hoofed animals, and is trying to get approval for seven lions. That came as a surprise to some of its neighbors, including Phoenix High School, which is right next door. Principal Jani Hale says she’s neutral about having the animals next door, but she does worry about loud noises from football games startling the animals.

“That’s the first thing I thought of was out touchdowns. We make a touchdown and we shoot off our pirate cannon, and I thought, ‘OK, do the owners know about our cannon? Someone should tell them.’”

Many neighbors NewsWatch12 spoke to said they’re not worried, and are excited about the program.

“They just seem like very sincere people and I don’t see any threat,” said Monica Jenkins, who lives next door. “I do feel comfortable.”

So how can giraffes, zebras and lions move in next door? In Oregon, animals like zebras and giraffes fall are considered “non-controlled species” by ODFW. No agency inspects them, and there is no minimum fencing requirements, and lions are regulated by the USDA.

In California, laws are getting stricter. In September, West Hollywood banned exotic animal shows. Huntington Beach and Pasadena also have similar bans. McMillan has run his “Walking with Lions” shows for years at parks and circuses, but he says the changing laws are not influencing the move to Southern Oregon.

“We looked basically all over the United States,” McMillan says. “We love this area. As soon as we came here, we felt like we were home.”

McMillan also says he follows federal fencing and safety guidelines, to make sure nothing gets out.

“We have an impeccable safety record. We’ve never had an accident, never had an incident.”

McMillan says after seeing so much support from neighbors, it’s a project he hopes other Phoenix residents will approve of.

“We really do want the community to get behind this,” he said.

The USDA does routine inspections on lions. They issued a reports in 2008 and 2009 saying McMillan was allowing the public to get too close to the big cats. They said the issue was corrected, and McMillan has had no violations for the past two years.

McMillan says there’s still work to be done rebuilding homes and clearing land on the property. He says the animals won’t be brought in until sometime in the middle of next year.



West Hollywood joins other California cities, including Huntington Beach and Pasadena, in banning commercial exotic animal displays.,0,4376637.story


Although this ban doesn’t directly effect Brian McMillan, it is obvious that Californians are becoming more aware of animal sentience and less tolerant of animal exploiters.


October 05, 2013 By Mark Freeman Mail Tribune


PHOENIX — A Hollywood trainer of lions and other exotic animals says he plans to open a satellite operation near Phoenix to serve as a home base for his Oregon filming and as an education center.

Lions, giraffes, zebras and a host of African antelope could be living a year from now in new facilities that trainer Brian McMillan plans for his property along Houston Road adjacent to Phoenix city limits.

McMillan and his wife, Victoria, in August bought a 41-acre parcel of farmland and are now renovating the century-old farmhouse on the property — the first phase of his planned operation.

“It’s going to be a year or so from now,” McMillan said in a Tuesday interview from his current operation in Canyon Country, Calif. “Right now we’re just trying to get our house built.”

McMillan has been an animal trainer for more than 30 years, according to his website. His credits include television shows such as “CSI: NY” and “Monk” and films such as “Into the Wild,” as well as an array of talk shows and television commercials.

McMillan said his “Hollywood Animals” and “Walking with Lions” operations already do filming in Oregon, primarily in the Portland area, and he wants to expand that work in Oregon and Northern California.

The couple settled on the Phoenix property as a base for filming here because they prefer the climate and the community, he said, but that they plan to keep his Southern California operation as well.

Eventually, he plans to add pens and other facilities on the property before shipping seven lions, three giraffes, three zebras, two camels, two ostriches and six antelope north, according to his county planning application.

“It’s a nice, big, beautiful piece of property with lots of space,” he said. “And we’ve always liked Oregon.”

Before purchasing the land, which is zoned exclusively for farm use, McMillan asked the Jackson County Planning Department whether these exotic animals would fall under the land-use definition of “farm use.”

The lions fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and would need a permit from that agency to be housed on the property, said Bruce Pokarney, spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture.

The ostriches and camels already are exempt from wildlife laws because they are considered domesticated animals, said Rick Boatner, who handles exotic species issues for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The giraffes, zebras and the antelopes — kudus, blackbucks and impalas — are listed by the ODFW as “non-controlled animals” that can be kept, bred or sold here under limited restrictions, Boatner said.

There are not even fencing requirements such as those for keeping bears or cougars, Boatner said.

“Just humane conditions, that’s it,” he said. “But if they escape, you have some different rules to deal with.”

Under state statutes, any escaped exotics must be reported to the ODFW within 24 hours, and the owners have 48 hours to capture them, Boatner said. After that, any police officer or ODFW biologist can capture, seize or kill the escaped animal, he said.

“They can do whatever they think is best,” Boatner said.

All the animals must get an ODA health certificate before they can enter Oregon, Boatner said.

“It’s very rare, outside of zoos, to bring these animals in,” he said.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at

Read More

Posted on Apr 6, 2017 in Abuse, Browse by Name, Most Wanted | 0 comments

Doc Antle – T.I.G.E.R.S (The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species)

Doc Antle – T.I.G.E.R.S (The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species)

AKA Kevin Antle, Bhagavan Antle, Rare Species Fund, Preservation Station

USDA cites for recurring problems with ringworm on the tiger cubs.


Ringworm is easily spread from infected cubs to those who touch them.

June 2016:  Kevin Antle’s pay to play scheme is is involved in a federal investigation.  The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has conducted 23 inspections at the facility since April 2013.  A USDA spokeswoman told WMBF News APHIS typically visits a facility once a year.  Businesses are visited more often if there is repeat noncompliance, or if complaints are filed.

The agency said it has 130 inspectors for about 10,000 facilities across the country. It largely relies on people who visit the facilities to point out any issues. 32143305/myrtle-beach-animal- exhibit-under-federal- investigation



Exploiting tiger cubs. In our opinion, Kevin Antle (who calls himself “Doc” because he supposedly earned a doctor of natural sciences degree from the Chinese Science Foundation according to one report. Note that there does not appear to be a Chinese Science Foundation on the Internet) is one of the most notorious exploiters of tiger cubs in the country.  Antle operates two facilities in Myrtle Beach, SC that offer cub handling and photo ops for a fee.  One is a retail location called Preservation Station in a tourist area of town near the beach.  The other is his zoo or park.

He incessantly breeds tiger cubs to use to make money at these locations.  From what we are told by visitors, the cubs are taken to the retail location where they are subjected to being placed with and handled by person after person paying to have their photos taken with the cubs for a number of hours each day.  Then the cubs are taken back to the zoo, where they are subjected to more handling and photos.  Antle also takes cubs on the road to exhibit far from home at fairs or other venues, forcing the tiny cubs to ride long distances in a truck only to be  handled by person after person for hours to make money.

Cubs used by exhibitors to make money from handling are typically torn from their mothers shortly after birth, a torment to both cub and mother.  They are deprived of the comfort and nutrition of nursing and grooming by the mothers, subjected to unnatural levels of stress that lower their immune systems, and typically not allowed the natural amount and timing of sleep in order to satisfy customers.  For more about cub handling in general see Cub Handling Factsheet

Where do Antle’s cubs end up? USDA guidance states that cubs should not be handled at under 8 weeks of age because their immune systems are not sufficiently developed, and not handled at over 12 weeks because they are classified as “juvenile” and dangerous.  This creates a four week “window” during which cubs can be handled if exhibitors comply with the guidance.  (NOTE: We and other much larger animal welfare organizations have been urging to USDA to close this 8-12 week “window” by banning cub petting altogether to stop the widespread abuse of cubs used for petting.)

One visitor reported they were told by handlers that Antle starts using the cubs at 3 weeks of age, ignoring USDA guidance designed to protect the health of the cubs.  Even so, there is only a brief period during which the cubs can be handled.  So, Antle must steadily breed cubs to use in this money generating business.  But, according to his USDA census, he only houses 51 tigers at his park.

Where do all these cubs go when they are too old for him to use to make money? There is no way to know how many of these tigers end up living miserable lives in conditions compassionate people who care about animals would consider inhumane.  Per the report by TRAFFIC, the worldwide organization that tracks trade in exotic animals, the lack of tracking of tigers in the U.S. means there is also no way to know how many tigers end up being slaughtered for their parts to make “derivatives” like alleged medicines and tiger bone wine.

Visitors who have tried asking where the tigers end up tell us that they get evasive answers.  According to one Animal Welfare Act violation case and “Animal Underworld,” Alan Green’s excellent book exposing the illegal trade in exotic animals, that two of Antle’s tigers ended up in the hands of Mario Tabruae.  Tabruae was arrested in the late 80’s for heading a 10 year drug smuggling ring.  His Zoological Imports business was featured in Green’s book.  Some of Antle’s animals have ended up at GW Park in Oklahoma, another notorious exhibitor of tiger cubs.

Unsafe exhibition of adult tigers – USDA lawsuit.  Antle used to make money photographing visitors in close proximity to big cats with no barrier to protect the public.  In 2005 the USDA told him he was violating the safety rule that prohibits exhibiting without sufficient distance and/or barriers between the animals and the public.  Antle sued USDA claiming his procedures complied with the rules.  His case was so lacking in merit that he lost on summary judgment.  He then appealed, and lost again.  In our opinion, the idea that someone could safely stand within touching distance of an adult big cat is absurd because there is no way any “handler” can restrain a big cat that decides to attack.  Antle made his argument despite the fact that, according to reports, in 1991 one if his lions who was posing with a female model bit her  head resulting in 50 stitches and a $75,000 civil suit judgment against him.

Investigations, violations and injuries.  Antle has a 20+ year history of USDA and/or state agency investigations and/or violations including hitting tigers, injuries, transporting animals without proper health tests and papers and containing them in areas that were too small,  unclean, unsound and/or inadequate.  A chronology of those violations appears below.

Breeding ligers and tigons and color variations.  Antle is known for breeding hybrids between lions and tigers and color variations that do not occur in nature and have no conservation value according to experts.  Their only apparent purpose is to draw visitors to see what in our opinion are freaks.

Helping conservation?  Antle is a clever marketer who positions himself as making a significant contribution to conservation in the wild.  Visitors are given literature that may cause them to think that Antle makes a significant contribution to conservation.  Antle claims to have a “nonprofit grassroots organization” called the Rare Species Fund that donates to conservation in the wild.  In our search, we were unable to find an entity of this name listed as a nonprofit by the IRS.   We were not even able to find an entity with this name in South Carolina Secretary of State records.  It appears to be simply a fictional name Antle uses.  Antle’s brochure claims RSF is “among the world’s most effective conservation agencies.”  The literature says that since the founding of RSF in 1982 it has provided “more than $200,000 to wildlife conservation effort.”  This comes to less than $10,000 each year on average.  This is likely to be a tiny fraction of the amount Antle makes from his for profit tours and animal handling fees.  We are unable to find any financial reporting or disclosure related to this alleged entity.  One of the groups Antle’s literature says he works with as part of his alleged conservation work is the Feline Conservation Federation (FCF).  This is a group that advocates the private pet ownership of exotic animals that we believe leads to many animals living in what we consider to be miserable conditions and creates danger to the owners and public.

Tiger escape.  Antle used to also keep a few tigers and other animals at Jungle Island in Miami.  In August 2010 one his tigers escaped, sending visitors scattering.  Fortunately the tiger was recaptured without anyone being attacked, although a news report indicated four people were treated for minor injuries.  Antle was cited by USDA twice in the months following the escape for continuing to keep tigers in an inadequate enclosure.  It appears from our research that by January 2012 he had transferred ownership of the animals to another licensee and did not renew his permits to keep animals in Florida.

Lies regarding critics.  Because exploiters of tiger cubs have no true basis for justifying their mistreatment of the animals, they typically try to discredit critics with false statements about the critics. Antle is no exception.  Big Cat Rescue in Tampa has made exposing what we view as abuse of tiger cubs a priority.  In response, Antle makes false statements and points to websites set up by other exploiters containing false statements about Big Cat Rescue and Founder Carole Baskin.  Among his lies have been claims that he is the copyright holder of photos Big Cat Rescue posted to expose his operation.  When challenged under the provisions of the Digital Media Copyright Act, Antle was unable to back up his lies and the images were reinstated.

What is it like to work at T.I.G.E.R.S.?

Barbara Fisher spent 8 years in the cultish compound and says, “So why didn’t I just leave? Why don’t the suicide bombers quit before they are forced to kill themselves? It’s not like they are forcing them to stay; they choose to, right? Well, this is very easy to say but very hard to do in real life. When so much of an individual’s identity is invested in an extremist group, leaving can mean losing everything: property, people, identity, accomplishment, and years and years of work.” Read the rest of her story here:


Chronology of Citations/Investigations/Escape/Injuries from news reports and government documents

Nov 16, 2010 cited again for tiger enclosures that were no different from the one that enabled an escape in Aug 2010.

Sept 10, 2010 cited for failing to house the tiger who had previously escaped in a cage that was any different from the one he had escaped from on Aug 28.

Aug 28, 2010 Visitors to Miami’s Jungle Island were treated to a scarily authentic experience when a tiger sprang from its pen at the tropical tourist attraction.  Hundreds of terrified guests ran for safety when the big cat, known as Mahesh, broke out of its enclosure. According to MSNBC, the 3-year-old tiger spent an hour enjoying its newfound freedom before being recaptured.

June 8, 2010 failed to have a person of legal age available at Miami’s Jungle Island site to let the USDA inspect the facility.

May 10, 2009 As an example of where Antle’s tigers end up, in AWA Docket No. 09-0085 the judge found that Bhagavan Antle released two tigers to Ray Thunderhawk, who had already lost his USDA license  and who had abandoned 75 tigers in Palm Bay, Florida.  Thunderhawk ran a “pay to play” operation whereby patrons pay to pet and pose with big cats and he took the two tigers from Antle in S.C. to Boston before taking them to the buyer in Miami.  The buyer was Mario S. Tabruae of Zoological Imports 2000 located at 16225 SW 172 Av Miami, FL 33187.  Tabruae admitted to falsifying records to make it look as if he had purchased directly from Antle and that Antle had delivered the tigers.  Dec 12, 1987 New York Times reports that Mario S.Tabruae was arrested for:

A drug-smuggling ring that killed an informer and cut up his body while trafficking in a half-million pounds of marijuana has been broken, the Federal authorities said today.  The ring also bribed police officers to protect their operation, said Richard Gregorie, the chief assistant United States Attorney here. At one time, the indictment charged, members of the ring used Miami police officers to collect, count and disburse drug profits.

The ring operated for at least 10 years, smuggling the marijuana, along with some cocaine, into Louisiana and Florida, Mr. Gregorie said.  Six of the seven people indicted in the case were arrested here by a special Federal law-enforcement group combatting drug smuggling. The seventh was in custody in another state. $50,000 Caught by Agent Among those arrested were the men who the authorities said headed the ring, Mario Tabraue and his father, Guillermo. When the men were arrested at their homes in Dade County, Mario Tabraue’s wife tossed a bundle of $50,000 in cash out the back window, said Lloyd E. Dean, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation here. The money was caught by a Federal agent, Mr. Dean said.

December 1994 Antle was fined $1000 for transporting a bull and cow without proper health tests and papers. He was also cited for night boxes that were too small for zebras, wolf hybrids and tigers.

July 6, 1994 US Department of Agriculture investigation for failing to supply proper travel papers in Kodak, TN in Sevier County.  Antle was also associated with a second investigation into the legality of whether interstate transportation and exchange of baby tiger cubs. Antle was also under investigation because one of his tigers bit a trainer who was visiting Antle’s Buckingham Zoological Park in Virginia.

Dec 1993 transporting a bull and cow without proper health tests/papers in Kodak, TN in Sevier County

May 1992 Sharp wire was at the top of the zebra fence.

Nov 1991 An electric cord from a space heater dangled within reach of an elephant.

Oct 11, 1991 charged with hitting his tigers in Carver, MA in Plymouth County.  Antle and his handlers were seen hitting wild cats at a fair according to the Animal Rescue League of Boston.  Antle stated he hit the tigers when they became too aggressive.

Another investigation found that Antle allowed people to have their pictures taken with the animals, failed to list a cougar among the animals he brought to the state and had overstayed his permit according to Tom French, assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Wildlife.  Antle at that point was asked to leave Carver, MA within 24 hours.

According to one report, Antle returned to Massachusetts without the knowledge of wildlife officials under the guise of other company names, and at the time that led the Massachusetts wildlife department to declare that it would not issue any more permits to Antle.   However, they apparently have, since he reportedly has been performing at a fair there for decades.

Oct 9, 1991 lion named Arthur bit a model during a photo shoot requiring 50 stitches in Manchester, NH in Hillsborough County.  Antle allowed a Konica lion named Arthur to pose for pictures with a Bedford, NH model.  Shannon Audley, 23, of Bedford, NH was injured when the 6-year-old lion opened its mouth and clamped down on one side of her head. Audley’s head was cut, and she was admitted to Catholic Medical Center where she needed more than 50 stitches to close the wounds to her head and was hospitalized for about 5 days.  Audley also had to undergo a series of rabies shots because Antle left the state with the lion and it couldn’t be determined if the lion had received a rabies vaccination.

Audley was awarded $75,000 in her lawsuit against Antle, under a default judgment.  A default judgment is entered when a defendant takes no action to contest a claim against him.  Audley was seeking $250,000.  Audley also filed a suit against Bill Melton, the Manchester, NH photographer, but the court dismissed that action.  Antle claimed the model was cut falling off a platform.

Sept 1991 The pit of a young zebra was called inadequate and exposed nails were found in animal enclosures in at least 2 inspections.

Aug 21, 1991 Antle was assessed a $3500 penalty to avoid litigation over 7 alleged violations, including animal enclosures that were unclean and structurally unsound and supplying incomplete travel and identification records.  He did not have to admit innocence or guilt as a result of the order.  Kodak, TN in Sevier County  As of July 14, 1994 the penalty has not been paid.

July 1991 Antle was cited for unclean and unsound animal enclosures, incomplete travel and ID records. Monkeys were kept too close to coyotes and a baboon across from a jaguar.  An exhibit site for an elephant had no way of preventing the animal from entering a highway if it got away from the trainer. Kodak, TN in Sevier County

1991 Antle came home from his tiger roadshow to an outstanding misdemeanor warrant issued by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.  It charges him of letting a tiger come in contact with the general public at a 1990 bodybuilding contest in Sevierville. It was served on him and carries a $50 fine if he’s convicted.

December 1989 Federal inspectors find zoo vacated with deer and peacocks left behind in Buckingham, VA


Antle Tiger Escape at Jungle Island August 2010

August 29, 2010 Miami, FL: Visitors to Miami’s Jungle Island stampeded over each other to avoid an escaped, 3 yr old, 500 lb. tiger named Mahesh. A monkey escaped while being transported through the zoo and 500 lb. Mahesh bounded over the 14-foot fence into the public area according to the Miami Herald. The attraction’s three big cats — which include a liger and a white tiger — have been confined to a “night kennel,” while the park investigates. “We were really scared. There were people crying,” Miami mom Dorothy Evans told the Herald, adding that people knocked each other down as they sprinted toward the shelter. “People were running for their lives,” Larry Rhodes, 46, of Pompano Beach, told the Sun Sentinel. Miami Fire Rescue Lt. Ignatius Carroll told the Herald that several people were injured while running, including a mother who fell on top of her 15-month old baby. Another guest was taken to a Miami hospital after suffering a panic attack.  Bhagavan (Kevin) Antle, who also owns T.I.G.E.R.S. in Myrtle Beach, SC and who is the owner of Mahesh, was charged with one count of maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition, resulting in threats to public safety. Park owner Bern M. Levine was charged with two second-degree misdemeanors for conditions resulting in the animals’ escape. The charges for both men have a maximum penalty of $500, FWC officer Pino said. Source Time and others.

About Antle in the book Animal Underworld

Page 35 of Alan Green’s book Animal Underworld: “An animal handler who has claimed to also own an Exxon tiger is Bhagavan Kevin Antle, who was an assistant to Jack Hanna during his appearances on Good Morning America and Late Night With David Letterman. Known alternatively as Kevin Bhagavan, Kevin Antle, Mahamayavi Bhagavan Antle, Ghagavan Antle, and Dr. Kevin Antle (he supposedly earned a doctor of natural sciences degree from the Chinese Science Foundation), Antle also claimed to own the MGM lion, even though Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. sent him a cease-and-desist letter, and he implied in his literature an affiliation with Greenpeace, until he was told to cease and desist. Antle is a self-described big-cat conservationist who presides over The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (TIGERS), which operates a mobile petting zoo, leases tigers for TV commercials, and charges people at shopping malls and festivals to have their pictures taken with an animal. Antle hauls around a crossbred lion and tiger to such places as casinos in Biloxi, Mississippi. He is also known for owning a lion that, in 1991, had to be pulled off a terrified model during a photo shoot in Manchester, New Hampshire. That same year, the federal government charged Antle with repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including substandard housing for big cats, and to settle the charges he agreed to pay a $3,5000 fine. He was also cited in Massachusetts that year for illegally displaying his cats, and he was threatened with arrest and confiscation of the animals if he didn’t immediately leave the state. What’s more, Antle was the target of an unsuccessful 1991 Tennessee lawsuit regarding his alleged beating of a Bengal tiger with a wooden shaft.”

Antle Claiming to be an M.D.

In an article he wrote for the Phoenix Exotic Wildlife Association in 2005 Antle claimed to be a medical doctor saying, “I still think this is your right to have your own tiger and to be killed by your own tiger. Just keep it in a cage forever and don’t let anyone else near you or watch you have it happen. I know this rambled on a bit but I was trying to make several points that are hard to explain. I often say that as an MD., I can talk you trough [sic] taking out someone’s kidney, but I can not talk you through tiger training. You have to live it to understand it. Dr. Bhagavan Antle”

1991 News Article

Antle, 34 and his high-profile business are in the middle of an ongoing animal-rights debate.

Antle, whose full name is Mahamayavia Bhagavan Antle though he has gone by the name Kevin, is an animal trainer who supplies trained animals for advertising, commercials, film work and shows.

He opened the park on Bryan Road within site of Interstate 40 in late May. It is open to the public.  It houses dozens of animals ranging from tigers to lions, to wolf hybrids, an elephant, primates and some deer. Antle said he also has some animals in Korea, where he has been working on a show involving trained animals for a resort.

Animal-rights advocates say he routinely doesn’t follow federal animal welfare regulations.

Among the charges leveled by regulators and animal-right groups are that Antle doesn’t provide proper shelter for the animals, doesn’t give them enough access to water, gives incomplete records to federal and state officials and allows the public to come in contact with the dangerous animals.

Animal-rights activists said Antle cares little about the animals or the public.  They believe Antle beats, mistreats and drugs the animals to make them act domesticated for commercials, television, movies and his shows.

“He’s out there to make money and that’s all he’s out there for” said Sue Pressman, a West Virginia zoo consultant who helped write the Animal Welfare Act and who gave a critical inspection report of T.I.G.E.R.S in August 1991.  “He needs to go to jail” stated Pressman.

“It’s a lie the United States Department of Agriculture comes here all the time to inspect us,” Antle said. “The USDA’s sole purpose in life is sanitation.”

But Sue Pressman, a consultant for P.A.W.S., the Performing Animal Welfare Society who toured T.I.G.E.R.S. on Aug. 3, said it was rife with violations of the Federal Animal Welfare Act.

“We went through and there were lots of problems,” said Don Elroy, co-director of the Tennessee Network for Animals, which invited Pressman to the area. She is a former longtime director of Captive Wildlife for the Humane Society of the United States.

Among the problems Pressman said she found were a host of sanitary (violations, a dangerously low perimeter fence that might allow animals to escape, a fence enclosing tigers that is configured in a way that could allow the cats to climb out and an elephant chained without shade and water.

Elroy said there are also questions the group has about the registration of some of Antle’s animals. He said a lot of the problems are already laid out in previous USDA inspection reports of the facility.

“We want to see some demonstration of compliance,” Elroy said. “He’s not trying to improve the facility.”  Elroy also questioned how the USDA could give Antle a license until he was in full compliance with all regulations.

Antle, however, countered that T.I.G.E.R.S. was licensed by the USDA in May and that USDA veterinarians were back inspecting the facility only a few days before Pressman was there.

He said that groups like P.A.W.S. are against him no matter what.  “No matter what our facility looked like, the lady would have complained,” Antle said.  He also displayed the USDA exhibitor license for T.I.G.E.R.S. and copies of USDA inspection reports on May 21, 1991, and July 16, 1991.

“A few days before that lady was here, they (USDA) made an inspection, and nothing was said about sanitation,” Antle said. “And these men were experts.”

The USDA issues the permits for parks like T.I.G.E.R.S.  “The USDA says we pass unequivocally,” Antle said. “They said they want us to fix water bowls. They said our weeds were higher than they wanted.”

The USDA inspection report on July 16, which Antle provided to a reporter, lists two pages of handwritten recommendations of corrections.  Inspection reports dating back to 1988 for Antle-owned facilities – he also owned Buckingham Zoological Park in Buckingham, Va. – have similar lists.

Despite all of this Antle has never lost his license to exhibit animals.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel
The Union Leader
Knight Ridder
Tribune News Service


Video Exposing Treatment of Circus Animals


Read More

Posted on Mar 28, 2017 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Dave Coleburn

Predators of the Heart

People who make a living, or get their ego stroked, by being the guy with a big cat on a leash, will almost always say they are doing it to educate people about why they shouldn’t be kept as pets.  Most will say they are breeding the animals to save them from extinction.  It’s a lie.  Find out more at:

Here is what I found doing a google search on Dave Coleburn, the founder of Predators of the Heart:

2015 Dave Coleburn defies ban on private possession of big cats.

2015 Dave Coleburn wanted an exemption for USDA licensees from the city ban. Anyone can get a USDA license for 40.00, and a one page application that asks only for name, address and phone, so it is no real deterrent to wild animal possession and, as a USDA licensee, he surely knows that.
2014 Dave Coleburn tries to divert attention from the bill that bans private possession by trying to make it all about him being targeted.

2009 Dave Coleburn was associated the the Alliance for the Conservation of Exotic Felines who is associated with Phoenix Exotics. Both organization are groups of wild animal pet owners who try to defeat laws that would prohibit private possession of exotic cats.

2008 Dave Coleburn used scare tactics to try to defeat a bill to ban private possession of big cats by saying: “Coleburn told the volunteers on stage that “you might be the last people in Washington” that have the opportunity to have hands-on experience with a cougar legally. He was referring to House Bill 1418, a measure passed by the state Legislature last year that restricts the ability of people to own big cats, wolves, venomous snakes and a number of other potentially dangerous animals.”

2003 Dave Coleburn opposed a bill that would ban the private possession of dangerous wild animals. If his mission is to educate that they shouldn’t be kept as pets, then why is he trying to defeat bills that would do that?

Where does he display?  At auctions and trade shows for the exotic pet trade.  That just about says it all.

Read More

Posted on Mar 16, 2017 in Abuse, Browse by Name | 0 comments

Jay Owenhouse

Illusionist Jay Owenhouse


Mr. Owenhouse, from Bozeman, Montana, is a prominent, award-winning illusionist who has owned and used tigers in his magic act for the past 25 years. He bills himself as “the authentic illusionist” and feels that live tigers are an integral part of his “authenticity.”

Owenhouse was mentored in tiger-keeping by Rick Glassey, a now-retired animal trainer who raised and trained big cats to “perform” in movies, magic shows, and even a Broadway musical. He trained the tigers for popular illusionist Doug Henning, who was a major inspiration for Owenhouse (and most modern illusionists). Henning was one of the first illusionists to incorporate tigers into magic shows. He once said, “If I produce a 450-pound Bengal tiger, it’s going to create a lot more wonder than if I produce a rabbit.” Incidentally, Henning’s tigers escaped backstage on multiple occasions.

According to this article, “once a Bengal tiger got loose backstage at NBC and chased [talk show host] Tom Snyder into the bathroom; another time, another tiger ate up 27 of Henning’s 30 prop animals.”

If I produce a 450-pound Bengal tiger, it’s going to create a lot more wonder than if I produce a rabbit.
Read more at:
Mr. Glassey no longer owns any big cats, and I couldn’t find any allegations of abuse attached to him.

Jay Owenhouse’s first tiger was a male named Sherekhan, who was obtained as a cub in 1996. You can see a video of Sherekhan here.

Although the video is from 1998, the “tiger appearing in the cage” act is still a major part of Owenhouse’s show. After Sherekhan passed away in 2010, Owenhouse obtained his current cats from Doc Antle’s T.I.G.E.R.S: a pair of 4-month old littermates named Shekinah and Sheena. Sheena is an orange tiger and Shekinah is promoted as a “Royal White Tiger” who “likes to travel” and “loves to hug.” In this article, Owenhouse admits: “I really wanted a white tiger for a while, but we waited because the genetics have weakened. An offspring of two white tigers has an 80 percent chance of being orange, because white isn’t albino, it’s a recessive genetic trait.” and

A lot of the advertising imagery Owenhouse uses focuses on the white tiger, which the magician claims is an ‘endangered species.’ Owenhouse’s official website claims: “Unfortunately there are only about 200 white tigers left in the world. White tigers are an Asian species which are found in the frozen tundra of the Soviet Far East and south to the humid jungles of Malaya.” In this news release, he talks about how “They haven’t seen a white tiger in the wild in 10 years. They discovered an isolated gene that’s started bringing them back.”

Does he know that’s not true, or is he just believing what Doc Antle tells him?

What sets Owenhouse apart from other illusionists is that he treats his tigers more like “pets” than props. Here’s the scary part: the tigers were raised and housed by Owenhouse and his family in their suburban home and backyard, in a residential area less than half a mile away from a middle school, until they weighed over two hundred pounds each.

When Owenhouse first got Shekinah and Sheena, he celebrated by making a Youtube video of him and his children parading the cubs through town on leashes in order to show them off.

That video eventually shows the same tigers, nearly full-grown, walking into Owenhouse’s kitchen and climbing into his bed for a bottle of milk, their standard “reward” for obeying commands (read this blog post for an explanation of why trainers bottlefeed adult big cats as an unnatural form of behavioral conditioning Other Youtube videos show the cubs exploring the well-manicured backyard with collars on, and, when large enough to hurt someone, romping in the snow just a wooden fence away from the neighbors.

Although Owenhouse tells people that his cats live at a “sanctuary” when not performing, they actually live in a 30 by 40-foot concrete and chain-link enclosure attached to an industrial park warehouse in Belgrade, MT, about a mile from a major airport and less than half a mile from another residential area. The location of the warehouse is a closely-guarded secret, but I was able to figure out roughly where it is after an article about an unrelated nearby business mentioned that a warehouse just north of that location is “used by a magician to store tigers.” I’ve attached a screenshot of where I think the tiger pen is.

From an animal care standpoint, Owenhouse is actually pretty good for a private owner. He has no USDA violations (license# 81-C-0031) and I could find no allegations of abuse other than the standard criticism for using tigers as magic props. He feeds his cats Nebraska brand feline diet, which is used by AZA zoos, and he regularly provides them with enrichment toys like Boomer Balls. The 1,200 sq. ft. warehouse enclosure he built for the tigers is partially outdoors and includes a den, a heated pool, and a fountain. Tigers don’t belong in a Montana warehouse, but a privately-owned tiger could do much worse. Here’s a video of the enclosure.

This website has several “behind the scenes” photos of Owenhouse and his tiger enclosures.

In the magic show, the tigers “appear” and “disappear” in tiny cages on-stage. After the illusion, the cage of Shekinah, the white tiger, is opened, the tiger comes out and is rewarded with a bottle of milk, and Owenhouse walks her around the stage with nothing more than a leash and collar for “restraint” (more on this later). Owenhouse brags about his tiger care and reassures his audience that only reward-based training is used. The tigers are transported in a “climate controlled trailer” to 10 performances each month (the animals don’t tour during the summer). Owenhouse brings his tigers to other events on rare occasions. In 2013, he brought one of his tigers on-stage at Montana State University’s freshmen convocation as a tribute to Life of Pi. I’ve also heard reports that when the cats were cubs, Owenhouse brought them to his daughter’s school and allowed the students to pet them.

Although Mr. Owenhouse seems to love his tigers and treats them well, the way he handles them is often extremely reckless. This local news interview shows him engaging in lots of dangerous and irresponsible behavior that’s often seen with complacent pet owners who are convinced that their big cats have “love” or “respect” for them.

Owenhouse claims that the tigers “like to be loved,” and that “we have a wonderful relationship with them, they’re family for us.” He claims that he’s “careful” with his animals, but the news segment includes a clip of his teenage son play-wrestling with the 250-pound tigers. The boy nonchalantly explains that the tigers view him “like a sibling” and that “when it comes to interacting with them, they’re a lot more rough and play as if I’m a tiger.” Lots of people have been injured or killed by tigers that were “just playing.” What’s even more shocking is that he invites the newscaster into the tiger’s enclosure and lets her feed a nearly full-grown, completely unrestrained tiger from a baby bottle.

In a 2014 review of one of Owenhouse’s magic shows, the reporter writes: “He let the tiger out of a cage and only had her on a small leash. I was nervous, until Owenhouse explained that his family raised both tigers and in their backyard.” “Walking” an unrestrained tiger across the stage with nothing but a handheld chain leash is a regular part of Owenhouse’s shows. Not only does this stunt put the safety of the audience at risk, but his “explanation” for it perpetuates the totally false idea that raising a big cat from a cub makes it “safe,” and that it’s OK for tigers to live in backyards.

Like most entertainers who use big cats, Jay Owenhouse portrays himself as a “conservation advocate” and believes that his show helps to “spread awareness” about threats facing wild tigers. But, although a few of Owenhouse’s “facts” about tigers are generally correct, many of them only fuel the myths that drive the exploitation of these animals. He tells people that white tigers are an endangered species that people are breeding for “conservation,” and has stated that “the only threat to wild tigers is poaching” (while ignoring habitat destruction, human conflict, and other issues).

In this article, he claims that tigers “tend to bond to one or two people and also become very loyal if they’re treated with respect and dignity,” perpetuating the dangerous misconception that big cats are made “tame” if hand-raised. And, according to this article,! one of the ways Owenhouse “educates” people about tigers is by showing a video montage of him and his family raising tigers in their home at every performance. That sends a completely wrong message that does nothing to teach people about wildlife — one reviewer compared it to little more than a “show and tell” about Owenhouse’s pets.

At every show, more expensive VIP tickets are offered, which entitle the holder to a backstage meet and greet with the illusionist and one of his tigers. Owenhouse claims that the proceeds from these VIP tickets are donated to “help save wild tigers and cheetahs,” and although part of that money allegedly goes to the Corbett Foundation (which is a legitimate conservation charity), the other part of the “donations” go to Doc Antle’s deceptively-named and completely bogus “Rare Species Fund,” which many news outlets mistakenly report as “an animal sanctuary in India.”

According to this article, “because of Owenhouse’s love for animals, he partnered with the Rare Species Fund as Ambassadors to help spread the word.”

Owenhouse’s methods of raising and handling tigers often put himself, his family, and the public at risk, his partnership with Doc Antle doesn’t help true conservation, and his attempts at “education” by showing off his pets often undermine the message he is trying to send.

Read More