Downtown Las Vegas venue won’t move forward with magic show that includes animals

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:42 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Magician Dirk Arthur and his big cats performed across decades at Las Vegas show rooms. The owner of the downtown Las Vegas event space Notoriety Live was interested in having the magician perform at his theater on Fremont Street.

“I visited the animals. I saw how they were taken care of,” Ken Henderson said. “He loves them, and I felt good about the experience, but still always wondering how’s the rest of the world going to take it?”

After the Las Vegas Review Journal released an article last week about the possible pairing, Henderson said he received hundreds of letters asking him not to move forward with the show.

Henderson heard the concerns about using animals for entertainment and quickly changed his mind.

“It isn’t something [the animals] can say I like to do this, and I think that’s where you’re never going to win the argument,” Henderson said. “I hear a different side of this now, and it makes me look at animals in shows different.”

“It can be challenging to explain to people why it’s not OK to use big cats in an entertainment type platform,” Compassionworks International executive director Carrie Leblanc said.

Carrie LeBlanc’s organization was one of the many that reached out against the proposed show.

“When someone does step up and listen its enormously gratifying,” Leblanc said. “It’s telling me that as an animal rights movement we’re making a lot of progress with sharing our message with the public. That it’s resonating.”

As FOX5 reported late last year, illusionist Jay Owenhouse received strong pushback when he requested a permit to allow his tigers to join a residency near the strip. He eventually withdrew his proposal that included his big cats.

“Las Vegas has been very clear we find it unacceptable to exploit wild animals in our community,” Leblanc said.

Henderson told FOX5 he doesn’t think he would allow any type of animal to be apart of a show at his venue, because of this experience.

He said he would still love to have Arthur perform at Notoriety without the animals. He hadn’t heard from the magician as of Tuesday night.

FOX5 reached out to Arthur for comment, but as of the publishing of this article he has not responded.