I-Team: Tiger owner vows to defy federal law - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Tiger owner vows to defy federal law

Posted: Updated:
Photo credit: Karl Mitchell Photo credit: Karl Mitchell
LAS VEGAS -- A Pahrump exotic animal owner still vows to defy federal law in his fight to keep several tigers on his property.

The I-Team has followed tiger owner Karl Mitchell for more than a decade. Mitchell is openly defiant of federal law. His exotic animal exhibitors license was revoked 13 years ago, but Mitchell shows no signs of giving up his fight.

He still loves to exhibit his tigers at his Pahrump ranch. His website shows a parade of celebrities and Hollywood starlets taking pictures with the big cats. The going rate, according to his customers, is a "donation" of $750 for two people to visit the tigers. It was 2012, the last time an 8 News NOW camera was inside the ranch.

Mitchell approached the I-Team, last month, in Pahrump and talked about his tigers.

"I have tons of famous folks come out to visit me in Pahrump. People who are internationally known and nationally known. They're my friends because I've got 40 years in the film business," Mitchell said. "If they show up to take a picture and their pictures go out in People magazine, it's to promote the town of Pahrump. It's only to do positive and good things. There's nothing negative that comes from it other than a few haters that think that you shouldn't touch a tiger."

Those who don't support Mitchell include federal government officials. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has fined Mitchell nearly $100,000. The fine has never been paid.

The fine came after years of Mitchell continuing to show off his tigers, despite a federal court order.

"Karl Mitchell's license to exhibit animals was permanently revoked in part because of his abusive training techniques including withholding water as a training practice with the tigers he exploits and uses for his entertainment business," said Carnie Anne Nasser, an attorney for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Nye County's district attorney sued Mitchell and the ranch land owner, who is sheriff's candidate Ray "The Flagman" Mielzynski, for running the tiger ranch without a county permit.

Mitchell would only agree to talk with the I-Team if the interview was not recorded. He says his rights to own tigers in Pahrump are grandfathered because of how long he's been in the town. He also refers to himself as a private animal owner. His company, Big Cat Encounters, is listed as a non-profit corporation.

A judge determined there were unsafe conditions and government inspectors are concerned about the safety of people visiting the tigers. Mitchell believes the government is overstepping its bounds and the federal laws don't apply to him.

Last legislative session, state Senator Michael Roberson, a Republican, wrote a bill that would allow county commissioners to create criminal penalties for people keeping exotic animals as pets. It passed the state senate overwhelmingly, but failed to come up for a vote in the assembly before deadline.

Nye County's civil court lawsuit against Mitchell is scheduled for June 27.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KLAS. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.