Dirk Arthur is a Las Vegas Cat with 10 Lives

Dirk Arthur plans to single-handedly bring exotic cats back to the Las Vegas stage. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the former Strip headliner aims to relaunch his “Dirk Arthur’s Wild Magic” show in a 245-seat stage at Notoriety Live in Fremont Street’s Neonopolis. It will feature white and orange tigers, a snow leopard and a bobcat. No opening date has been announced.

Magician Dirk Arthur performs with a snow leopard in this undated photo from his website.
Magician Dirk Arthur performs with a snow leopard in this undated photo from his website.
Magician Dirk Arthur performs with a snow leopard in this undated photo from his website. (Image: dirkarthurmagic.com)

“After a crazy long break from performing due to Covid-19 canceling several jobs, I’m excited for another Vegas engagement,” Arthur told the R-J’s John Katsilometes, “I will focus on more on education about preserving wildlife than ever before as this has become an all-encompassing passion over the years.”

“Portions of his revenue” will be donated to protect animals in the wild, the article said.

Cat-astrophic Shift

Animal shows have slowly fallen out of favor due to a cultural shift toward animal welfare and conservation. The pace of that cultural shift was hastened in 2003, when Roy Horn was mauled on stage by a white tiger 13 years into the run of Siegfried & Roy’s show at The Mirage. That attack ended not only ended the popular duo’s career, but caused the world to question the safety and morality of staging entertainment shows with live wild animals.

In 2017, that same shift helped shutter the Ringling Brothers Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, a staple of children’s entertainment since 1871 — though the world’s most famous big top has since announced plans to return, without animals, in 2023.

Tale of a Tiger Man

“Dirk Arthur’s Wild Magic” has already lived nine lives. It debuted in 1997 in “Jubilee” at Bally’s, then jumped to the Silverton, Plaza, Tropicana, O’Sheas, Harrah’s in Reno and Laughlin, and the Riviera a few months before that hotel closed in 2015.

The show performed at its ninth venue, the Westgate, for five months in 2017 and 2018, but without animals. Before opening, Arthur scratched plans to feature a snow leopard, bobcat, birds and a duck. Arthur blamed space limitations at the time, though he had previously performed in smaller showrooms. Animal-rights groups, who actively protested the show, claimed a victory when the cats were removed.

Another magician, Jay Owenhouse, has been trying to launch a show featuring three tigers in a five-story tent in Las Vegas since at least 2020. Though a location behind Mandalay Bay was approved by county commissioners, that plan was aborted when the land fell into foreclosure. In January 2022, Owenhouse withdrew a second request, to locate his show behind the Sahara, after he reportedly learned that county staff members were against it.

If Arthur’s vision proceeds as planned, “Wild Magic” will debut at Notoriety Live alongside a drag production (“Faaabulous The Show & Drag Brunch”), a male revue (“Aussie Heat”) and another magic show (Vinny Grosso’s “Totally Mental”).

“It’s a far cry from ’97, when Arthur dazzled audiences in ‘Jubilee,’” Katsilometes wrote. “He’ll get a verdict, quickly, in 2022.”

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