Peter Renzo AKA Tiger Pete
Maybe They Should Call Him Slippery Pete
STAGECOACH, NV – It’s been a long involved odyssey for Peter Renzo and his big cats–two white Bengals and four Siberians– and he’s had both support and plenty of detractors along the way.
When we first met him back in 2002, they’d found temporary housing in a Sparks warehouse. He had been keeping these tigers for years, at one point sharing his South Lake Tahoe home with them.
He’s always been comfortable around these huge predators, petting, nuzzling, even feeding them by hand.
It’s not surprising, however, that others have not always shared thatcomfort ..
They’d come to Washoe County after being ordered out of Grass Valley, California. He settled briefly on a hilltop above Lemmon Valley, but, citing a lack of an exotic animal permit and proper enclosures a judge ordered him to leave.
The next stop was Silver Springs in Lyon County where eventually he found more resistance. Again the concerns were public safety and proper licensing.
His troubles, he says, have been due to misunderstanding.
“People are not educated about tigers and they assume things and you know what happens when you assume things,” he says.
“So, that’s been a lot of the problem, people not checking things out.”
Renzo and his tigers have a new home in Stagecoach, Where they’ve set up shop as a federally licensed zoo.
“We’re the only zoo in Lyon County and you can come here and watch me hand feed these tigers raw meat. That’s what I do.”
Though there are still civil and criminal cases against him languishing in Lyon County courts, he says he expects everything to be resolved soon.
Not only that, there’s a TV reality series in the talking stage. This week producer Pete Allman has been in town talking up a concept he calls “Living Large” which would feature Renzo and his tigers, as well as celebrities and their pets.
Allman says he expects to shoot the pilot this spring and says he’s been talking with a couple of cable channels.
Meanwhile Renzo is reaching the public on a personal basis opening his zoo in Stagecoach to the public.
For the moment at least all seems calm. Renzo says his cats have raised no concerns among his new neighbors. County officials we talked with seemed unaware of his new location.
It could be this traveling zoo has finally found a home.
Perhaps even on the TV set in your living room.
Tiger Zoo is located at the end of Boyer Lane off U-S 395 in Stagecoach.
Animal Control Advisory Board votes to support amendments to restricted animal ordinance
SILVER SPRINGS–Residents concerned about Peter Renzo’s SABRE Foundation, which includes five Siberian tigers and one black Panther that have been moved into an area on Cougar Street, packed the Silver Springs Senior Center last Tuesday night at the Lyon County Animal Control Advisory Board meeting.
Interim County Manager Jeff Page told the audience that Renzo has been given time to come into compliance with the County’s Restricted Animal Code. Page also indicated he has been in touch with Lyon County Sheriff’s Office and the Lyon County District Attorney’ Office concerning this matter.
Additionally, the interim-county manger reported the USDA has inspected Renzo’s facility, and officials from that department indicated he met their standards, and that a veterinarian did examine the big cats and indicated to Page that they “were being taken care of.”
With respect to Lyon County Code involving “restricted animals,” Page reported there is nothing in the code that indicated public notification is required.
“There was no notification to the public when the big cats or Mr. Renzo was coming in,” he said, adding that if the public wants to change that in the code, they must request it.
Page continued, saying Lyon County has had to deal with restricted animals such as reptiles, bears, emus, and snakes from time to time.
Renzo told the board that the SABRE foundation is a 501.C3 organization and that it is a zoo. Further, he has been in Silver Springs for eight years.
Page said prior to the passage of the title, Renzo was grandfathered in, and now the DA has asked that Renzo obtain a permit.
Renzo noted, though, that under Title 7, “all zoos are exempt,” and he is classified as a Class C Exhibitor, and a zoo.
Renzo would be meeting with the DA’s office and Page to get the issue resolved, and he went on to tell the board that prior to his move on Cougar Street, he notified Lyon County Animal Control of his plans. He also reported that he is federally licensed, his big cat cages have roofs and the cages are cemented.
He also said the SABRE Foundation is a private organization, and its goal is to save the big cats. Renzo added he has been doing such work for the past 30 years, and he also emphasized there have been no escapes.
Resident Steve Gansby told the board that there is a bus stop located near Renzo’s facility, and there is concern among school officials and parents.
Audra Borders told the board that she lives next door to Renzo and has watched him and his workers construct the cages for the past three weeks.
She added that her family has livestock, and they have seen a drop in coyotes frequenting the area, as well as a mountain lion.
“We’re sleeping at night. The coyotes and mountain lion don’t come after our livestock,” said Borders.
Resident Don Dohren asked if there are any zoning ordinances that prevent the SABRE foundation from existing on Cougar Street, to which Page said, “At the time when the ordinance was written and enacted, it was allowed regardless of the zoning.”
Dohren also cited incidents where people been killed by pet tigers, saying a ten-year-old boy was killed by his uncle’s pet tiger, and that at a USDA-licensed facility, a girl was killed.
“There are plenty of documents to support how dangerous these animals are,” Dohren said.
Resident Scott Keller asked the Board to require the Lyon County Commissioners to revisit the ordinance. He also noted there are issues like property values that haven’t been discussed, as well as whether or not the county has an emergency plan if the tigers get loose.
Keller said he also felt other issues such as zoning need to be discussed, along with whether there is a need for a special use permit for the facility.
Karen Nelson, who lives on 7th Street, said her horses have been nervous since the big cats moved in.
Cindy DeLora, who lives on Caribou Street, also questioned whether the cages are truly safe and said she would shoot one of the big cats if it gets out and is in her neighborhood. Sept. 29, 2010
Residents concerned about big cats in SILVER SPRINGS neighborhood
SILVER SPRINGS–A number of residents who live on Cougar Street and surrounding streets are concerned about the safety of their neighborhood now that the SABRE Foundation has moved into that area of town, including five Siberian tigers and one Black Panther.
Residents presented a petition signed by 24 residents concerning Peter Renzo’s SABRE Foundation at last week’s Silver Springs Advisory Board meeting, and that petition asks Lyon County Commissioners to prohibit such big cats from being located in residential areas due to a potential risk to the community.
Lyon County Interim Manager Jeff Page told the audience at last Monday night’s meeting that his office is aware of the “large cats,” and the county has given Renzo time to comply with county codes and to “get his permits in place.”
Page indicated his office has been in touch with Renzo’s attorney concerning that matter.
Residents who live near and around the Cougar Street area indicated they are concerned mainly about safety issues, citing a recent lion attack on his trainer at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
Some residents are also concerned about their property values having the SABRE Foundation nearby, especially in this tough economic times.
Nonnie Higley of Stagecoach told the audience at the SSAB meeting that she was a Lyon County Animal Service Officer in 2002 when Renzo arrived in Lyon County.
She went on to say he had left Washoe County and moved to Lyon County, and at that time, Lyon County didn’t have any regulations concerning cage requirements.
She also questioned whether Renzo’s facility is in compliant with USDA rules and regulations.
According to a April 3, 2002 Reno Gazette Journal news story, Washoe County Commissioners voted to require Renzo to obtain an exotic animal permit and to construct proper facilities for his cats at a location in Lemmon Valley. Prior to moving to Lemmon Valley, Renzo placed his animals in a Sparks warehouse, according to the newspaper report, and he was asked to move the cats and to obtain an exotic animal permit.
Renzo maintains that he has been licensed by the USDA for 30 years and holds a Class C Exhibitors license, which allows him to operate as a zoo.
“I’ve never had an escape,” he said, adding that all the cages at the Cougar Street location are cemented into the ground, and are made of heavy chain link fencing material.
“I’ve been in Lyon County for over eight years. I’ve moved four times to different locations, but as a zoo. We can go anywhere,” he said.
Renzo also maintains the Lyon County Commissioners passed regulations in 2004 primarily because of his big cats, saying, “I’m the only one in Lyon County with big cats. That law was passed for me, at that time.”
He reported although the law was passed, it didn’t apply to him because he was “grandfathered in,” as he moved to Lyon County in 2002.
Renzo noted that although he is complying with county officials, the Lyon County Animal Services Officers don’t have jurisdiction over his animals.
“They have no jurisdiction. I’m a licensed zoo. I let them (Animal Control Officers) look,” he said.
In fact, Renzo noted the LCAS has all of the reports issued by USDA concerning his facility, and he visited the animal shelter prior to his move to Cougar Street.
Renzo also maintained that he was inspected by the USDA one month ago.
“Instead of complaining about the cats, why don’t they complain about the mountain lions, coyotes or stray dogs that run around here? A few people are complaining, and they don’t know about me or my cats,” Renzo said.
The Lyon County Animal Service Advisory Board was scheduled to address the big cat issues its meeting on Tuesday (Sept. 21, 2010).
A Good USDA Inspection Doesn’t Mean Anything
10/8/2010 COUNTLESS UNBORN VICTIMS IN IDAHO HAVE BEEN SAVED BY THIS COURT ORDER:
The planner of an $8 million tiger habitat can’t bring Siberian tigers and other large cats into Idaho without getting them spayed or neutered, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled.
Peter Renzo and the SABRE Foundation challenged the decision of Idaho Department of Agriculture, which did not deny his possession permit but did impose the sterilization condition.
The 50-acre SABRE habitat was to include a 60-room hotel, a restaurant and a veterinary facility.
Renzo was also denied a propagation permit, which is usually reserved for zoos. Renzo never applied for the propagation permit, but the department stated its intent to deny the permit.
The trial court denied Renzo’s tort claim, and Justice Warren Jones of the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the decision.
Jones noted the Renzo did not file his tort claim until 194 days after he learned that he would not receive a propagation permit. This was two weeks beyond time limit under the Idaho Tort Claims Act.
Jones also denied the Department’s request for attorney fees, ruling that Renzo did not file his claim in bad faith.