Big Cat Magic Show in a Tent Approved for Las Vegas Strip

A magic show featuring big cats has been approved for the Las Vegas Strip. The show will take place in a tent near McCarran International Airport.

What could possibly go wrong?

Magician Jay Owenhouse’s show was approved by the Clark Co. Zoning Commission over the objections of both animal rights activists and, initially, Clark County staff.

Jay Owenhouse magician

As far as we can tell, everyone in the Owenhouse family is super likable. So, there’s that.

Jay Owenhouse, who bills himself as the “Authentic Magician,” isn’t really a well-known quantity in Las Vegas.

Owenhouse has said his animals participate in the show “because they want to.” We’re thinking he might want to start billing himself as an “Animal Psychic Comedy-Magician.”

To his credit, Owenhouse has a pretty much spotless record of animal treatment over the last 25 years.

As is required of all performers using big cats in their shows, Owenhouse says he’s an advocate of conservation and believes exotic animals raise awareness of the plight of the creatures in the wild.

Owenhouse says he’ll spend $150,000 for a “sanctuary” at the site, just across from Mandalay Bay.

Owenhouse Vegas

Seems legit.

The 51-foot-tall show tent will accommodate 312 people. We trust that’s the number without social distancing.

Owenhouse magic show tent

This whole situation is a little tense.

Owenhouse’s show is a family affair, with his camera-friendly kids both taking part in the show and assisting with promoting it.

PETA jumped in with their take about the show. Hint: They’re against it.

Concerns about animal exploitation aside (some would say constant aircraft noise is inherently abusive, or at least stress-inducing), this is just a weird situation overall.

Clark County approved waivers of Animal Control permit requirements and development standards, including a rule that limits the length of time such an operation can take place (20 days is the usual maximum).

Owenhouse claims his show opens mid-September and will run six months. Good luck with that. Few, if any, shows in Las Vegas at the moment due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Here’s the site in question.

Owenhouse tent site

What will it take to turn this into an entertainment venue? A lot.

KTNV Channel 13 here in Las Vegas did a pretty good overview of the situation.

While we lean heavily toward animal advocacy, we’re on the fence about this show.

We like kitties, but shows using big cats and other exotic animals have fallen out of fashion due to concerns about animal welfare. (Not to mention the whole Roy Horn thing, indelibly etched in the minds of many Vegas watchers.)

Big companies like Sea World and Ringling Bros. have overhauled their practices or eliminated the use of exotic and wild animals altogether. (It’s worth noting Ringling Bros. closed for good in 2017.)

It’s possible the COVID-19 crisis will make the debate about this production moot. It’s unknown when Las Vegas shows will be able to open.

Rest assured, animal rights activists are gearing up for a fight if plans for the big cat show in a tent moves forward.

This saga will be one to watch! Even in the middle of a pandemic, there’s still plenty of appetite for a rip-roaring drama on the Las Vegas Strip. Emphasis on “roaring.”

26 thoughts on “Big Cat Magic Show in a Tent Approved for Las Vegas Strip

    1. Scott Roeben Post author

      Ha, hadn’t heard that. It sounds like the battles over animals contributed. Interesting, thanks.

  1. Adam Mace

    Tiger King II: Vegas Boogaloo!

    They can open the show right next to the SkyVue Wheel. They both have about the same chance of coming to fruition.

  2. Jason Ghiselin

    A 300 seat house on a site where it looks like pretty much everything (restrooms, air conditioners, bar/food trucks…maybe even electricity, not to mention kitty litter, oh so much kitty litter) will have to be brought in, for a “star” with extremely limited (to be kind) name recognition, not attached to a gaming property that can comp seats to players (and shuffle expenses behind the scenes) is, quite simply…NOT GONNA HAPPEN. I’ll buy you a drink any time at Kind Heaven if you’d like to discuss this further!

    1. Jackson

      Not that I think this is a good idea, but the infrastructure things you mention aren’t particularly problematic. Companies like Cirque du Soleil and Cavalia have touring shows that set up in parking lots.

      Years ago, I worked at a theatre. We were the local partner for one of Cirque du Soleil’s touring shows. We helped them find a location. All they needed was running water (non-potable was okay) and electricity (lot of electricity, actually).

      Any site that’s on or near the Strip will have both water and electricity.

      But, I’m with you on the rest. Actually getting people to this thing will be next to impossible. (The Kind Heaven joke made me literally LOL.)

  3. Mike Alexakis

    I have always considered myself to be a big cat, but nobody has ever offered me a tent and show on the south strip… You folks, the little people, have no idea about the style you are missing out on… My diamond rings and medallions are almost as dazzling as my rhinestone studded jump suits… Porter Wagoner used to call on me for fashion tips, just sayin…

  4. Annoula Wylderich

    So sad when profiting by these beautiful, but dangerous, wild animals is justified as “conservation.” It’s exploitation and an inherent public danger, nothing more. True sanctuaries do not include scheduled performances by animals for the price of a ticket, and they consider the best interests of their animals rather than how they’ll capitalize off them.

  5. Cats got ur tougue

    How about a little cat show I admit big cats are dangerous. But little cats sure are funny. Not to make them do tricks but some cats love the spotlight.

  6. Thomas Mills

    This is not animal conservation in any stretch of the imagination. And Mr. Owenhouse might try to make himself believe his big cats “want to perform” but that’s sheer and utter nonsense. We’ve heard that argument before from other animal shows before they finally closed their doors. If he wants to truly help his animals he should give them to a real sanctuary where they can live out their lives in some form of normalcy and then maybe their benefactor can learn some card tricks.

  7. Linda Faso

    It’s good to see that people are getting the problem with wild animal acts. He calls his cage a sanctuary, far from what a real sanctuary provides for its animals.. First of all in true sanctuary’s they don’t have to perform for profits, are never shuttered around in cramped travel cages and are left to be tigers and do as they please. No wild animal has ever ‘enjoyed’ performing. Let’s not forget the ‘training’ sessions that go on behind closed doors. Always has to be some sort of punishment. This guy is living in la la land. Lets hope ticket sales are low and this guy is gone after his 6 mo gig.. Unfortunately for the tigers, they will be trucked somewhere else to make a living for this guy… Shame on Las Vegas for allowing in the first place.

  8. Casey

    Caging three tigers in a parking lot next to the McCarran Airport is a gross misuse of the term “sanctuary.” The Owenhouse family is out-of-touch if they think it’s acceptable to force exotic cats, who should be roaming dense jungles, to do circus-style tricks on the Strip to make a buck. Steer clear of this cruel and ill-conceived sideshow.

  9. Heather Moore

    I would never support such cruelty and exploitation. Animals are not props or exhibits for people to gawk at.

  10. Shellatthebeach

    It’s 2020, has Vegas seriously not moved past the old abused exotic animal in a cage routine?? Does anyone even want to see that anymore, knowing that these animals are denied any semblance of a natural life with a vast territory and a family? Someone needs to make this act disappear.

  11. LucyP

    Tigers belong in jungles, not caged in the blazing heat next to a noisy airport. Compassionate people should stay far, far away from this and other attractions that exploit animals for “entertainment.”

  12. Kim Marie

    If these people are such good magicians then they shouldn’t use abused animals as a gimmick to sell tickets. Exploiting captive animals is morally bankrupt and endangers everyone.

  13. Jill Barnes

    No thank you! We do not want cats in cages and used for money. People have already been hurt like this….will this world ever learn. I hope no one supports this and we protest.

  14. Hani

    Thank you for this article! We do not need another form of entertainment with animals, definitely not one that will be located near a loud airport! Every time we have a new show with wild animals we encourage more captivity and more suffering and keep the public ignorant to their suffering. No more! All forms of entertainment with animals should be stopped and outlawed, instead we keep having new ones and keep animals in captivity, breed them and use them as slaves .

  15. Michelle

    No. This is wrong. Animals should not be exploited for profit. I cannot believe they approved this! It is cruel and dangerous!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *