Federal regulators say a Branson entertainer has consistently failed to provide adequate care for exotic animals he uses in his magic show.
In court papers the US Department of Agriculture says illusionist Kirby VanBurch was guilty of animal neglect in 2011 and 2013. They say VanBurch failed to provide tigers and other big cats with veterinary care and suitable housing.
The documents say at least four big cats did not receive proper nourishment and their cages were filthy.
In one case, a tiger named Charlie suffered from lesions on his paw and was only walking on two legs. His ribs, shoulder and hip bones were visible and prominent. In 2011, the USDA confiscated Charlie.
Another case alleges VanBurch kept four exotic cats in a van without air conditioning with a heat index of 109 degrees. The cats were found on the brink of heat stroke – panting and struggling to breathe. Court documents also allege that in June of 2013, large cats were placed in an animal cargo space that did not have "a supply of air sufficient for normal breathing for each animal."
An attorney for PETA, Carney Anne Nasser says, "People should be aware of VanBurch's documented disregard for the bare minimum standards of care for these animals and encourage anyone who cares about animals not to attend his magic show." is an attorney with the PETA foundation and she says PETA will not stand to see anyone profiting while animals are mistreated:
VanBurch and the company that produces his show, Bambi Worldwide Productions, filed a lawsuit against the Music City Center, where VanBurch performed last year. The lawsuit says the theater won't return equipment and exotic animals.
In 2004, VanBurch was fined $20,000 for violations of the Animal Welfare Act after he admitted that he operated without a federal license in 2002.
No matter the outcome of the federal investigation VanBurch says this will be his last season performing due to health reasons.
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