A Studio City man whose Bengal tiger cub was featured in a widely viewed video from controversial YouTube celebrity Logan Paul has been convicted on one count of unlawful possession of a restricted wild animal, according to Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer.
Nicholas Perkins, 33, was placed on probation for 36 months. He also has been ordered to pay about $3,900 in fines to the city, $2,000 to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and $52,000 in veterinary bills for treatment after the tiger was seized; to attend 16 hours of animal cruelty classes; and to cooperate with any investigation pertaining to the breeder and seller of the tiger.
“We should never allow any animal to be exploited,” said Feuer. “The defendant’s conduct here is illegal — and flaunting this treatment of an exotic, endangered baby tiger on social media sent a horrible message that behavior like this is OK. It isn’t.”
The tiger, known now as Neil, was placed in the care of America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College shortly after authorities seized the animal in November 2017. That was after Paul’s video, posted in October 2017, featured the cub meeting Paul’s dog, Kong. The video has been viewed more than 8.6 million times.
With his widely viewed YouTube videos, Paul has become an internet celebrity. In 2018, he came under scrutiny for posting a video that showed what appeared to be a dead body in a Japanese forest that was known as a suicide spot.
In the tiger video, Paul is seen rubbing the cub’s belly and letting the cat play with his small dog. A disclaimer flashes on screen informing viewers that the video was “filmed in a closed and controlled environment with animal professionals.” The cat and the dog chase each other, intermittently taking turns to growl. The tiger paws at the dog, and the dog yips in return.
In October 2017, Department of Fish and Wildlife investigators were alerted to an Instagram post of a model posing with a tiger cub. The same cub was seen in the video posted by Paul, which investigators used to determine the animal’s location.
The cub was rescued in November 2017 after investigators served a search warrant at Perkins’ residence. They found the cat living in poor conditions; they also found Perkins had illegal possession of anabolic steroids. In December 2018, Feuer filed charges against Perkins for the alleged illegal possession and mistreatment of the tiger cub.
The city attorney’s office initially suspected that Perkins obtained the tiger from an out-of-state dealer. Capt. Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said investigators were still looking into how the tiger came into Perkins’ possession.
“California wildlife officers are doing everything possible to stop the trafficking of wildlife in California and all over the world,” said David Bess, deputy director and chief of the law enforcement division for the California agency. “Addressing the crimes associated with possession and mistreatment of this tiger is a measurable gain in that effort.”