Miami Beach Revokes Mokai's Business License Over Horse Stunt

Miami Beach Revokes Mokai's Business License Over Horse Stunt

Update 3/19:
Mokai successfully won an appeal this morning and Miami Beach will restore its business license. But the club's owners admitted to five code compliance violations in relation to the horse stunt and agreed to pay the city $12,500 in fines. The club will also donate $10,000 to Peaceful Ridge Rescue for Horses, according to an official order shared with New Times. The club had to promise not to use animals in its acts, with the city threatening to permanently shut it down if the order is violated.

For the past 24 hours, animal rights activists have been bombarding the social media accounts of South Beach nightclub Mokai and lighting up phone lines at Miami Beach City Hall to demand action over a viral video that shows a horse panicking in the middle of the club. It didn't take city officials long to act on those demands.

Mokai's business license has now been revoked over the stunt, City Manager Jimmy Morales says.

“I was disgusted and offended that any legitimate businessperson would think this was an appropriate action to take,” Morales says in a release. “This activity was not permitted, and as soon as we became aware, I immediately instructed staff to act swiftly in remedying this situation.”

Miami Beach Police and the city's code enforcement officers are still investigating the video, but the city says it has confirmed the footage was shot inside Mokai early Thursday morning.

Police "reviewed multiple video/media clips showing the horse being spooked and throwing the scantily clad rider off while in the crowded Mokai Lounge venue," the city says in its letter to the club's manager, Roman K. Jones. "[Police] have also located eyewitnesses who confirmed the incident took place at Mokai Lounge."

The city says the video shows an "active threat to public health, welfare, or safety" and "constitutes cruelty to animals." Morales says the evidence is enough to warrant an "emergency revocation" of Mokai's license.

The result is that the nightclub is now shut down. The license revocation is permanent, says Tonya Daniels, a city spokesperson, although the club can appeal the ruling.

Mokai still has yet to comment about the horse video on its social media accounts, and the club didn't return a call from New Times this morning. Tweets show this isn't the first time the club has used live animals as part of its nightlife routine, though:
“Animal cruelty is an abhorrent and vile act,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber says in a statement. “I fully support the immediate actions taken by the city manager and his staff to ensure that this is remedied quickly.”

Animal rights activists tell New Times they're working to determine who owns the horse. Presumably, police are asking the same question.
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink