The Department of Justice (DOJ) released a press release today announcing they’ve apprehended a total of 68 big cats from Jeff and Lauren Lowe of Tiger King Park this week. The big cats were seized due to Jeff and Lauren’s ongoing Endangered Species Act (ESA) violations.
According to the search and seizure warrant, numerous United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) violations were documented in three USDA inspections in the past six months. Earlier this month, a search and seizure warrant was executed at the Thackerville, OK, location of Tiger King Park to apprehend six big cats.
Documents say law enforcement experienced verbal and physical harassment from Jeff and Lauren while executing the May 3 warrant. Lauren threatened to kill a DOJ agent and the pair was “screaming profane personal attacks at close range, delivering non-specific threats to personal safety and to personal reputations on social media and other media platforms,” documents say.
Jeff’s son Taylor Lowe and their employee Eric Cowie also participated in the harassment, according to documents. The four worked to stress the big cats out and interfere with their safe movement by yelling at the animals and startling them to keep them from going into transfer cages. Cowie told officers, “I hope you die.”
Kevin Seiler of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) said Lauren threatened to have his children taken from him.
When Seiler provided Jeff with a copy of the property receipt, “he aggressively snatched it from my hand and crumpled it up in his fist while engaging the entire time in the creation of a disturbance, yelling and screaming profanities in an apparent self-scripted effort to film the exchange for what he had commented earlier would be sold to Netflix as Tiger King 2.”
Because of Jeff and Lauren’s behavior during the May 4 apprehension of six big cats, USFWS asked that Jeff and Lauren and their agents not be allowed on site during the May 17-18 seizure of 68 big cats which included lions, tigers, lion-tiger hybrids, and a jaguar.
Court documents say seven big cats have died at Tiger King Park in the last eight months. Jeff and Lauren failed to obtain veterinary care for the animals or went against veterinary advice and treated the endangered big cats with CBD oil.
At one inspection, USDA officers observed the only food available to the big cats at Tiger King Park was boneless, skinless chicken breasts which is not an adequate diet for carnivores that need bone in their diet to obtain calcium. Numerous cubs at Tiger King Park suffered from Metabolic Bone Disease, a condition caused by improper nutrition, according to documents.
In January, the DOJ confiscated 14 big cat cubs and their mothers from Tiger King Park and moved them to The Wild Animal Sanctuary (TWAS) in Colorado. At TWAS, the big cats were found to be underweight and were suffering from fur loss, giardia, roundworms and malnutrition. The cats had raw paw pads and other wounds.
Also in January, inspectors witnessed numerous big cats pacing in small box cages at Tiger King Park. Pacing is a stereotypical behavior that indicates stress. By February, even more big cats were pacing due to their inadequate enclosures that did not sufficiently protect them from the elements, court documents say.
On April 30, 2021, inspectors observed rotting animal carcasses inside some of the Big Cat enclosures at Tiger King Park. They also located a pile of rotting carcasses in the zoo that had not been properly disposed of and were attracting flies.
Jeff and Lauren have failed to comply with previous court orders and their neglectful actions constitute a violation of the ESA by harassing and harming endangered species, according to documents.
A total of 88 big cats have been removed from Tiger King Park since January. The DOJ is moving for civil forfeiture of the animals and any offspring, meaning Jeff and Lauren will never get them back and they’ll be placed at accredited sanctuaries for the duration of their lives.
“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,” Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams said in a press release.
Jeff and Lauren remain under investigation by the USDA and USFWS for violations of the ESA.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid said officials “will work to ensure that [the animals] go to responsible animal preserves where they can be safely maintained rather than exploited.”
Application for search and seizure warrant for Tiger King Park: