Jeff and Lauren Lowe of Tiger King Park were cited for 14 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations at an inspection earlier this month, according to court documents filed today by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Although all of the endangered big cats were removed from Tiger King Park by the DOJ late last month, 62 animals were left behind.
Court documents indicate those animals are suffering with rotten food, filthy water and no medical care.
On June 2, 2021, the USDA cited Jeff and Lauren with a Direct (repeat) violation for failing to provide their animals with veterinary care. Jeff and Lauren's veterinarian has quit and Tiger King Park no longer has an attending veterinarian, according to court documents.
“Having no attending veterinarian puts the animals at the Thackerville facility at risk of avoidable suffering, injury, and death, defies court orders, and violates the AWA,” the DOJ said.
At a hearing last month, the DOJ brought attention to a red fox at Tiger King Park that had cancer and was suffering. The DOJ asked that Jeff and Lauren humanely euthanize the animal but Jeff and Lauren have failed to get the animal any medical care.
“The Lowes have unilaterally decided to simply watch the animal die,” documents say.
The June inspection revealed numerous animals in need of veterinary care including a ferret, a raccoon, a bush baby, and two bobcats.
According to Lauren’s records, the bush baby had a “bed sore on his right side and rash above left eye.” Rather than seeking veterinary attention, Lauren was treating the bush baby with Vaseline.
Inspectors observed a ferret with swelling that encompassed the entire width of the animal’s neck. Court records indicate Jeff and Lauren noticed the swelling at least on June 1, but they did not contact a veterinarian.
A raccoon was “lethargic with an overall unthrifty appearance.” The raccoon was isolating himself from the other animals “which is not normal,” the inspector said. The raccoon was not seen by a veterinarian.
On May 17 and 18, inspectors observed a female bobcat with hair loss on the sides of the animal’s neck. At the June 2 inspection, the hair loss had now spread to one of the animal’s ears.
A male bobcat appeared thin and lethargic and had lost weight since inspectors observed him on May 18. Jeff and Lauren had not consulted with a veterinarian about the animal’s condition.
The USDA cited Jeff and Lauren for not providing the animals with adequate food and water and the food that was available wasn’t appropriate for the species.
There was no appropriate food at all for the wildcats at the facility and inspectors said Jeff and Lauren were feeding the macaques dog kibble and old produce contaminated with flies.
The water bottle for a bush baby and a macaque were completely empty and when water was provided to the bush baby, the animal drank “immediately and eagerly for at least 30 seconds.”
The water available for one of the macaques was a dirty brown color with pieces of orange peel floating in it. The water for a camel was also brown and so filthy that inspectors couldn’t see the bottom of the water tank.
Inspectors witnessed discarded food and trash throughout the roadside zoo that was attracting flies. The flies were bothering the animals and animals were seen “flicking their ears and heads in an effort to remove the flies.”
The inspector said the bobcats, wolves, foxes and Canada lynx had “progressively decreasing body conditions.”
“These observations reveal that animals at the Thackerville facility are in need of veterinary care and routine visits from an attending veterinarian to ensure that they do not needlessly suffer,” documents say.
Jeff and Lauren were also cited for failing to disclose the acquisition and disposition of numerous animals.
“Three sheep, one goat, and one alpaca documented on the inventory at the previous inspection were not on the premises at the time of this inspection,” the USDA report said.
Jeff and Lauren had obtained two baby white raccoons since the previous inspection, but they did not provide information on where the animals came from.
Several enclosures at Tiger King Park were in need of repairs and had exposed grates or areas where the animals were chewing and possibly ingesting wood and plastic.
Jeff and Lauren admitted that their unsafe enclosure had resulted in some of their adult raccoons escaping.
The DOJ said the numerous violations found at Tiger King Park are evidence that Jeff and Lauren are failing to comply with a previous court order by failing to retain a qualified veterinarian, ignoring their obligation to confer with the DOJ and obtain leave of Court before acquiring or disposing of animals and failing to produce complete and accurate acquisition or disposition records and veterinary records by the court-ordered deadlines.
The DOJ asked the court to consider whether Jeff and Lauren should potentially face jail time for their continued noncompliance.
According to court records, Jeff and Lauren could avoid additional sanctions if they permanently surrender the remaining animals in their possession to the DOJ for appropriate placement.
“Although this would not resolve the records issue, it would address the other very serious violations of the Court’s orders and ensure the safety of the animals currently in Defendants’ possession,” court records say. “In that case, the United States would withdraw our pending application for damages resulting from Defendants’ noncompliance.”
Full court documents: