Victory! Exotic cats dropped from Dirk Arthur show in Las Vegas
Following a 3-week campaign by Animal Defenders International (ADI), the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Cinema has announced Dirk Arthur’s “Wild Magic” show will return minus its signature exotic cats.
The Las Vegas Review Journal reported: “Turns out that Arthur is eschewing his exotic cats in his return the stage at the Westgate Cabaret. Arthur had initially announced he would use a bobcat and a snow leopard in the production, which returns at 6 p.m. Nov. 15. Instead, the hotel issued a statement Wednesday that Arthur was ditching the cats and working sleight-of-hand and illusions…” Westgate cites “space limitations in the Cabaret” in its statement as the reason for the change of plan. https://www.reviewjournal.com/entertainment/entertainment-columns/kats/jewel-helps-las-vegas-pick-up-the-pieces/
Christina Scaringe, ADI General Counsel said: “'ADI is delighted that Westgate dropped Arthur’s cruel exotic cat act; we hope it will adopt a permanent ‘no wild animal acts’ policy. Public attitudes are changing, and as people become aware of the inherent suffering, they turn away from exotic animal acts. It’s time for Dirk Arthur to do the same, and retire his animals to sanctuary.”
This is the second time Westgate dropped Arthur’s exotic cat act; ADI hopes that Westgate will join those who have moved with the times to replace cruel and outdated animal acts with successful human performances.
Footage previously obtained by ADI shows that Arthur’s exotic cats suffer extreme confinement and environmental deprivation, enduring hours in tiny travel cages and prop boxes, and living in cement and chain link cells, all for only a few minutes onstage.
ADI’s undercover video compiles findings from our investigations in 2011, 2014, and 2015, of the Dirk Arthur compound (where animals are housed) and performances, including those at Harrah’s Hotel Casino in Reno Nevada, and at O’Shea’s, Riviera, and Westgate Casinos in Las Vegas. For the few minutes Arthur’s exotic cats appear onstage, they must endure approximately six hours a day in tiny travel cages and prop boxes barely larger than their bodies. The animals spend almost a third of their day confined in travel cages that are just 3 feet wide by 3 feet high by 5 feet long – about the length of a bathtub. When not performing, the animals are warehoused in a series of small cement and chain link cells in Arthur’s backyard, in a residential area of Las Vegas.
Dirk Arthur has been cited numerous times by the USDA for violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including citations for hazards related to a snow leopard’s caging condition and a bobcat entangled in his own neck chain and fencing. Arthur was cited in 2013 for failure to provide adequate veterinary care, after he declawed two juvenile tigers and a juvenile lion. Declawing is a painful, often debilitating, procedure that amputates part of each of the cat’s toes and commonly leads to chronic health problems; declawing is prohibited by the USDA and, since 2006, it’s not permitted under the AWA. The AVMA condemns declawing exotic and wild cats for nonmedical reasons. Arthur has also previously been cited for having enclosures that are too small to allow cats “normal postural and social adjustments and adequate freedom of movement,” including the ability to exercise. Previously, Caesars Entertainment responded to public outcry and these citations with its pledge to not again host Arthur’s show at the Harrah’s Casino. (ADI video reveals Arthur’s cats remained in extreme confinement after that time.)
Siegfried and Roy - the most famous Las Vegas exotic cat act – abruptly ended their run at the Mirage in September 2003, after Roy was attacked by a tiger. The MGM Grand Hotel and Casino removed their lion display in 2012, and veteran Las Vegas magician Rick Thomas retired his exotic cats the same year. Exotic cat acts along the Las Vegas Strip have been replaced by successful animal-free human performance shows, such as Cirque du Soleil.