A judge has ordered Jeff Lowe of Tiger King infamy to pay $183,557.90 to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) for their successful Endangered Species Act (ESA) lawsuit.
The U.S. District Court in Oklahoma awarded the funds to PETA after finding that Jeff and his wife Lauren, who owned the now-defunct Tiger King Park in Thackerville, Oklahoma, “treated four lions directly involved in the case … with appalling cruelty,” documents say.
PETA brought the lawsuit on behalf of lion cubs Nala, Kahari, Amelia and Leo who were originally owned by Tim Stark, owner of the now-defunct Charlestown, Indiana roadside zoo Wildlife in Need. The lions were part of a business partnership between Stark and Jeff that went sour.
Court records indicate Jeff and Lauren denied the four lions adequate nutrition which caused painful bone deformities. All four lions were found to be suffering from fly-strike, a condition where flies chew on the animals’ ears and lay maggots that hatch, often causing infection.
Amelia the lion suffered from a bite wound that caused her to undergo amputation of one of her knuckles and Nala the lion suffered an injury from an ingrown claw, documents say.
The judge also concluded that the Lowes failed to protect their animals from the COVID-19 virus, which can be fatal to lions, and in June 2020 Nala developed multiple painful respiratory infections.
Kahari the lion died before she could be rescued. Jeff failed to obtain a necropsy for Kahari and her body was too badly decomposed to determine her cause of death. The surviving lions were placed at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado.
The judge found that the Lowes treatment of the lions constituted a violation of the ESA and that PETA had “established, as a matter of fact and as a matter of law, that it is entitled to substantial relief against Mr. Lowe under the Endangered Species Act.”
Yesterday the judge granted PETA’s motion for attorneys’ fees and costs and ordered the Lowes to pay $175,109.85 in attorneys’ fees and $8,448.05 in expert costs.
PETA wrote in their blog that the court win “sends a clear message to other animal exploiters that they will be held accountable for their actions.”