Animal News

Illegal tiger exhibit at Cowtown Fair in Fort Worth gets shut down

Illegal tiger exhibit at Cowtown Fair in Fort Worth gets shut down

royal White Tiger discovery
The illegal exhibit involved white tigers, like these. Courtesy photo

An exhibit at Texas Motor Speedway got shut down because it was illegal. The Cowtown Fair, a grubby circus with carnival rides, petting zoos, and other animal displays, had among its attractions an illegal tiger exhibit that was sent packing after a tip from PETA.

According to a release, the tigers were from an unlicensed animal exhibitor named Lisa Lopez, who operates under the name All Things Wild and who planned to charge fairgoers to take photos with the creatures.

Lopez's plans to display the cats and sell photo opportunities would have violated local laws prohibiting the possession of tigers and other wild or exotic animals.

"Because authorities took swift action, these tigers will not be forced to sit in a metal cage and pose for photos with fairgoers," says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews in a statement. "PETA commends the city for sending the message that all unscrupulous exhibitors will be held accountable if they try breaking the law."

Lopez has a long history of skirting law enforcement, with multiple infractions including an incident in 2021 at a flea market in Liberty, Texas, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited her and ordered her to stop illegally exhibiting the big cats.

The tigers are confined to small travel trailers and hauled all over the country.

Lopez's routine is to palm off another exhibitor's license as her own to the event organizer, which she reportedly tried again at the Cowtown Fair.

Her business partner, Marcus Cook, keeps the tigers on his property in Kaufman. His license to exhibit tigers was revoked in 2012 after he was charged with nearly 100 federal Animal Welfare Act violations for actions that include using an electric prod on a tiger and for handling methods that allowed a tiger cub to bite a member of the public.

In 2017, the USDA denied Lopez a license to exhibit animals because of her connections to Cook, but the two have continued to exhibit tigers unlawfully as All Things Wild, using the license of yet another exhibitor, Michael Todd. Todd's federal license was also terminated in 2020 because he partnered with Cook.

PETA has urged the USDA to pursue criminal charges given Cook's and Lopez's "open disregard for the law" and multiple civil orders not to violate it.

On its Facebook page, the Cowtown Fair was touting the birth of a goat while the fair was ongoing — surely a stressful situation for the animals involved. Events exploiting animals are always a blight.

The fair is a 10-day event that's been held at the speedway for two years.

Texas Motor Speedway spokesperson David Hart said they were "very surprised" to learn that the fair's lineup included tigers.

"We were completely unaware that there were going to be tigers on our property as part of that program," Hart said.