Tiger King star accused of mistreating endangered species

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Roisin O'Connor
·2 min read
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Tiger King star Jeff Lowe in a scene from the Netflix docuseries (Netflix)
Tiger King star Jeff Lowe in a scene from the Netflix docuseries (Netflix)

Jeff Lowe, star of Netflix’s hit series Tiger King, has been accused of inhumane treatment and improper handling of endangered species of animals.

According to a civil complaint filed on Thursday 19 November, Lowe and his wife, Lauren Lowe, are accused of violating the Endangered Species Act by “by illegally taking, possessing, and transporting protected animals," a Justice Department statement said.

The couple is also accused of violating the Animal Welfare Act ”by exhibiting without a license and placing the health of animals in serious danger”.

The complaint was filed against the Lowes, Tiger King LLC, and the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park he took over from founder and fellow Tiger King star Joe Exotic in 2016.

After closing the Wynnewood zoo in August 2019, the Lowes agreed to pay more than $100,000 (£75,400) in delinquent state sales taxes from sales at the zoo.

Then, the federal complaint alleges they created an illegal, unlicensed wildlife park on a 33-acre tract in Thackerville, Oklahoma, named “Tiger King Park”.

“The Lowes' animals have suffered from and continue to suffer from easily preventable or treatable conditions, which in some cases has caused the untimely death of animals,” the complaint states.

It alleges that the Lowes “have then burned or otherwise disposed of the carcasses, including tigers, in makeshift pyres”.

The complaint is seeking an injunction that would bar the Lowes from any further unlicensed public exhibitions of animals, halt any further violations of federal wildlife laws and order the couple to turn over to federal authorities any animals covered by the Endangered Species Act.

Lowe's attorney, Daniel Card of Oklahoma City, declined to comment until he has reviewed the complaint, Associated Press reports.

The investigation of the zoo, which was made famous in Tiger King, an America true-crime documentary, began after an animal rights group accused it of neglecting its animals.

Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is currently serving a 22-year sentence after being convicted on charges including murder-for-hire and violating federal wildlife laws.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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