The case of the United States Government versus Jeff and Lauren Lowe of Tiger King Park is heating up and yesterday a judge gave Jeff and Lauren one week to fully comply with a previous order.
The Lowes took over the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, featured in the Netflix documentary Tiger King, and they’ve repeatedly been in hot water for their neglectful treatment of animals. Last year, their USDA license was suspended and they moved their operation from Wynnewood to Thackerville, OK.
The United States has brought a case against the Lowes for their improper treatment of animals protected by the Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act. The judge's ruling in the case means the Lowes are required to:
(1) immediately cease exhibiting animals protected by the ESA and the AWA without a valid USDA exhibitor’s license
(2) retain a qualified attending veterinarian under formal arrangements consistent with requirements
(3) provide acquisition and disposition records for any and all animals added to
or missing from their inventories since June 22, 2020
(4) submit complete and accurate veterinary records to counsel for the United States within 7 days of any animal being treated by a veterinarian
(5) submit acquisition and disposition records to counsel for the United States within 7 days of any change to the animal inventory
(6) immediately relinquish all Big Cats one year old or younger, along with their respective mothers, to the United States
(7) not acquire or dispose of any ESA or AWA protected animal without first conferring
with the United States and obtaining leave of Court
(8) permit APHIS to conduct routine inspections of the Thackerville Facility up to every three weeks, at the USDA’s discretion.
Jeff is also facing legal troubles in a 2018 Las Vegas case that found him guilty of illegally profiting off of exotic animals through his "Jungle Bus." Part of his sentence in that case required him to stay out of trouble and prosecutors say the case brought by the US Government shows that Jeff violated that requirement.
Jeff missed a court hearing in the Las Vegas case on March 23. In an interview with TMZ, Lauren said Jeff had a stroke March 18 and was hospitalized for three days. However, the judge in the Las Vegas case is not taking the Lowe’s word on the incident and is requiring Jeff to provide proof that he was in the hospital. His next hearing in that case is April 7.
At a Feb. 19 USDA inspection, the Lowes were cited eight times for animal welfare violations. Inspectors found numerous animals living in cramped, filthy enclosures. Several animals were exhibiting signs of a psychological issue commonly referred to as zoochosis.
“During the actual inspection, inspectors observed at least six of the big cats, two bobcats, a wolf and a coyote pacing back and forth in their enclosure,” the USDA report said. “Pacing can be a stereotypical behavior caused by boredom and stress in large cats.”
The Lowes have until April 2 to comply with the judge's order. A show cause hearing was scheduled for May 12.
Full court ruling: