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Court: No Tigers in California Backyard

By William Vogeler, Esq. on February 23, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you thought your neighbor's dog was annoying, you don't know Irena Hauser.

She is a tiger trainer, and she wanted to keep five tigers in her backyard. "No, thank you," said the neighbors -- 11,000 of them from miles around.

Hauser sued, as if that would change anybody's mind. In Hauser v. Ventura County Board of Supervisors, a California court said, "Tyger! Tyger!"


Hauser, who became Malibu's famous "Tiger Lady," sued because the county turned down her application for a conditional use permit. She proposed to build cages for the tigers, which she planned to use for movies, commercials and photography.

The county denied the application because, well, they're tigers. Plus, children and pets lived in the area.

Hauser lost her lawsuit, then took it to the state's Second District Court of Appeal for a second opinion. The appeals panel said her case had evidentiary problems, but that was not all.

"That there are 57 residential lots and 28 residences within a half mile and 46 homes within a mile of the project is alone sufficient reason to deny the project," the judges said.

'Tyger! Tyger!'

Writing for the court, Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert opened the opinion with a poem. He quoted "The Tyger" by William Blake.

"Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright In the forests of the night: What immortal hand or eye Dare frame thy fearful symmetry!"

It is among the most famous lines in English poetry. For Malibu's tiger lady, however, probably not her favorite.

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