Judge in Oklahoma Rules 'Tiger King' Zoo Must Give Up Big Cats Due to Violations

Tara C. Mahadevan
·2 min read

Image via Getty/Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post

The new owners of the Tiger King zoo have been directed to surrender all the lion and tiger cubs in their possession, as well as the mothers of the animals, to the federal government.

The Associated Press reports that the orders came from Oklahoma U.S. District Judge John F. Heil III last week, in a case against Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe and the G.W. Zoo due to alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act.

“The Lowes have showed [sic] a shocking disregard for both the health and welfare of their animals, as well as the law,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jonathan D. Brightbill of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, per AP.

Before the Lowes began managing the zoo, Joseph Maldonado-Passage—or Joe Exotic—was running the exotic animal park, and was the subject of Netflix’s Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness docuseries that aired last year. Exotic is currently serving a 22-year federal prison sentence in Fort Worth, Texas for his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot and violating federal wildlife laws. He’s been pushing for a pardon from Donald Trump—and on Jan. 6, Exotic’s legal team was gearing up for a reportedly “high level” meeting “in connection with” his pardon. However, with 24 hours left in Trump’s presidency, it’s unclear if Exotic will receive a pardon.

Related Articles

More Complex

Sign up for the Complex Newsletter for breaking news, events, and unique stories.

Follow Complex on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok