10:25 AM PDT, May 21, 2021
Nearly 70 big cats have been seized from the exotic animals zoo in Oklahoma belonging to Jeff and Lauren Lowe of “Tiger King” fame, officials announced on Thursday.
The Lowes have been accused of violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA) after an investigation found instances of animal mistreatment at their Tiger King Park in Thackerville, Oklahoma, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a press release Thursday.
Sixty-eight protected lions, tigers, lion-tiger hybrids and a jaguar were seized in the raid, prosecutors said in a statement.
Since December 2020, officials have conducted various inspections to make sure that the exotic animals are being cared for and no federal wildlife laws have been broken. However, the DOJ said that the Lowes have “received citations for failing to provide the animals with adequate or timely veterinary care, appropriate nutrition, and shelter that protects them from inclement weather and is of sufficient size to allow them to engage in normal behavior.”
Prosecutor’s say that Jeff and Lauren Lowe also failed to comply with a court order mandating they employ a veterinarian and provide adequate care for the big cats that meets the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act, People reported.
“Jeff tells me to share with you to ‘watch Tiger King 2 for the real story, not the story made up by a corrupt DOJ,’” Jeff and Lauren Lowe’s attorney, Walter Mosley, told People in a statement. It is unclear if there will be a sequel to the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King” in the future that will explain the Lowes’s story.
“This seizure should send a clear message that the Justice Department takes alleged harm to captive-bred animals protected under the Endangered Species Act very seriously,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said in a statement.
“This important animal rescue operation of nearly 70 endangered and allegedly abused lions, tigers, and a jaguar shows how effective civil forfeiture can be when utilized in conjunction with statutes like the Endangered Species Act,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said. “We are proud to have partnered with the Environment and Natural Resources Division to protect these amazing animals, and will work to ensure that they go to responsible animal preserves where they can be safely maintained rather than exploited.”
The U.S. Department of Justice announced in their press release that the case is being investigated by USDA and the Department of the Interior’s FWS. The Lowe’s have not been criminally charged.
The DOJ added that the U.S. Marshals were integral in executing the seizure warrant and securing the property, which allowed for the swift removal of the animals.
The news comes as Joe Exotic, the mullet-wearing zookeeper from “Tiger King,” revealed that he is battling prostate cancer. Although still in federal prison, he has gone to Twitter to update fans on his condition.
He wrote, “John Phillips has received my medical records from FMC Fort Worth and my PSA count came back very high for prostate cancer. The prison has approved testing to verify what stage it is in.”
He explains that the illness is taking control of his body. “My body is tired, I have lost a tremendous amount of weight, the mouth sores are out of control, I throw up more than I eat.”
Joe then went on to discuss his ongoing battle with trying to get pardoned.
Joe Exotic’s quest to get pardoned has been steady since “Tiger King” became a pop culture phenomenon. He has asked for help from ex-president Donald Trump and also Kim Kardashian.
Joe is currently serving a 22-year federal prison sentence. He was convicted on 17 federal charges for animal abuse: nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act and eight counts of falsifying wildlife records. He was also convicted on two counts for his murder-for-hire plot against rival Carole Baskin.