Erik Cowie, the long-haired head zookeeper from from the blockbuster Netflix series “Tiger King,” was found dead inside a Brooklyn apartment just four months after moving to the borough, a police source and neighbors said Tuesday.
No foul play was suspected in the death of the 53-year-old Cowie, although local residents recalled some sketchy behavior from the unlikely TV star once he landed in the borough. Autopsy results were pending in last Friday’s sudden death.
“He walks very slow, in a daze,” said neighbor Brian Thomas, 55, a former NYPD officer. “I’ve seen him slip up a few times, you know ... He never hits the ground but you’d see him falling and catching himself three or four times as he walked around.”
A woman who shared the home with Cowie wandered the neighborhood while randomly flashing her breasts, added Thomas.
Cowie had previously denied rumors of a methamphetamine addiction, although he acknowledged some issues with alcohol. He was arrested on a DWI charge in May after a two-car collision on an interstate highway.
It was unclear what led the longtime Oklahoma native to settle in Brooklyn.
Cowie, who wound up testifying at series star Joe Exotic’s trial for killing tigers at the Greater Wynnewood Animal Park in Oklahoma, worked at the wild animal zoo for five years.
He first learned about the job opening in Exotic’s zoo via Craigslist and gained instant notoriety after the series debuted in March 2020, drawing more than 34 million viewers in its first 10 days, according to Nielsen ratings.
Cowie, who made several memorable appearances on the documentary series, was discovered about 5:30 p.m. Friday in the bedroom of an apartment on E. 55th St. near Remsen Ave. in East Flatbush.
“Fire trucks and police were outside,” recalled another neighbor. “And one of the tenants was sitting outside and she looked shaken up.”
In January 2020, “Tiger King” star Joe Exotic was convicted of trying to hire someone to murder an animal rights activist in Florida — and of 17 wildlife charges.
Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced two months ago to 22 years in federal prison.
During the trial, Cowie testified that he “knew cats were getting shot” on the day in 2017 when, according to the feds, five tigers were killed by Joe Exotic. The tigers under Cowie’s watch included Delilah, Samson, Trinity and Cuddles.
But the second neighbor had no idea the semi-celebrity was living in Brooklyn.
“Really, was that him?” she asked. “I’m surprised, that’s crazy. I’ve definitely never seen him.”