Dozens of big cats seized from 'Tiger King' zoo after suspected animal abuse

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Jeffrey Lowe and his wife faced a civil complaint over the treatment of their animals - Netflix
Jeffrey Lowe and his wife faced a civil complaint over the treatment of their animals - Netflix

US officials have seized 68 big cats from an animal park featured in the hit Netflix series "Tiger King".

Lions, tigers, lion-tiger hybrids and a jaguar were taken from the Tiger King Park in Thackerville, Oklahoma, over concerns about the animals' care, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.

The animals belonged to Jeffrey Lowe and his wife Lauren, who starred in the Netflix series alongside Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin.

The DOJ filed a civil complaint against the Lowes in November, which accused them of "recurring inhumane treatment and improper handling" of animals protected by the Endangered Species Act.

The Tiger King Park was inspected three times since December 2020.

"Tiger King" told the story of private US zoos and their eccentric owners - NETFLIX 
"Tiger King" told the story of private US zoos and their eccentric owners - NETFLIX

During a court hearing last week, a judge found the Lowes in contempt for failing to comply with previous court orders to employ a qualified veterinarian and establish a programme of veterinary care for the animals.

Daniel Card, a lawyer for the couple, told a judge that the Lowes "want out completely."

"They don't want to fight this anymore, they don't want to do this," he said.

"Tiger King", the true crime series which lifted the lid on the world of private US zoos and their eccentric owners, became a worldwide phenomenon when it was aired in March last year.

It told the story of Joe Exotic, a flamboyant Oklahoma zoo keeper, his rivalry with Florida big cat rescue activist Carole Baskin, and his imprisonment for plotting to hire a hitman to try to kill her.

Joe Exotic is serving a 22-year sentence - Netflix
Joe Exotic is serving a 22-year sentence - Netflix

Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for his conviction for animal abuse and attempted murder.

His former business partner Mr Lowe took over the zoo featured in "Tiger King", the GW Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma in 2016.

In June last year, a court ordered Mr Lowe to hand over ownership of the site to Ms Baskin.

Two months later he said the park had been "closed effective immediately" and that all the animals were being moved to a new site in Thackerville, 60 miles south.

The DOJ announced on Thursday that 68 animals were seized from the site in Thackerville.

Acting assistant attorney general Nicholas McQuaid said the DOJ is trying to rehome the animals in "responsible animal preserves where they can be safely maintained rather than exploited".

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