STAGECOACH, NV - It's been a long involved odyssey for Peter Renzo and his big cats--two white Bengals and four Siberians-- and he's had both support and plenty of detractors along the way.
When we first met him back in 2002, they'd found temporary housing in a Sparks warehouse. He had been keeping these tigers for years, at one point sharing his South Lake Tahoe home with them.
He's always been comfortable around these huge predators, petting, nuzzling, even feeding them by hand.
It's not surprising, however, that others have not always shared that comfort..
They'd come to Washoe County after being ordered out of Grass Valley, California. He settled briefly on a hilltop above Lemmon Valley, but, citing a lack of an exotic animal permit and proper enclosures a judge ordered him to leave.
The next stop was Silver Springs in Lyon County where eventually he found more resistance. Again the concerns were public safety and proper licensing.
His troubles, he says, have been due to misunderstanding.
"People are not educated about tigers and they assume things and you know what happens when you assume things," he says.
"So, that's been a lot of the problem, people not checking things out."
Renzo and his tigers have a new home in Stagecoach, Where they've set up shop as a federally licensed zoo.
"We're the only zoo in Lyon County and you can come here and watch me hand feed these tigers raw meat. That's what I do."
Though there are still civil and criminal cases against him languishing in Lyon County courts, he says he expects everything to be resolved soon.
Not only that, there's a TV reality series in the talking stage. This week producer Pete Allman has been in town talking up a concept he calls "Living Large" which would feature Renzo and his tigers, as well as celebrities and their pets.
Allman says he expects to shoot the pilot this spring and says he's been talking with a couple of cable channels.
Meanwhile Renzo is reaching the public on a personal basis opening his zoo in Stagecoach to the public.
For the moment at least all seems calm. Renzo says his cats have raised no concerns among his new neighbors. County officials we talked with seemed unaware of his new location.
It could be this traveling zoo has finally found a home.
Perhaps even on the TV set in your living room.
Tiger Zoo is located at the end of Boyer Lane off U-S 395 in Stagecoach.
During the winter it is open, weather permitting 10-5 on weekends.
A $10 dollar donation is requested.
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