THACKERVILLE, Okla. (AP) — Federal authorities have taken 68 big cats
from an Oklahoma
animal park featured in Netflix
's "Tiger King."
The United States Department of Justice
announced on Thursday that the federally protected lions, tigers, lion-tiger hybrids, and a jaguar had been seized as part of a court-approved agreement to settle a DOJ complaint against Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe
regarding the animals
The civil complaint, filed in November, accused the Lowes of recurring inhumane treatment and improper handling of Endangered Species Act-protected animals, and the couple received numerous citations for failing to properly care for the animals following three inspections of the Tiger King Park
in Thackerville since December 2020.
During a hearing last week, a judge found the couple in contempt for failing to comply with court orders to hire a qualified veterinarian and establish a veterinary care program for the animals. The Lowes' attorney, Daniel Card, told a federal judge that the Lowes "want out completely."
“They don’t want to fight this anymore. They don’t want to do it,” Card said to the judge.
In a statement, Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas McQuaid said the DOJ is working to ensure the animals are sent to “responsible animal preserves where they can be safely maintained rather than exploited.”
Jeffrey Lowe was a central figure in “Tiger King,” which featured a mullet-wearing zookeeper named Joe Exotic
and became a cultural phenomenon last year. Joe Exotic, a pen name for Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is serving a 22-year sentence in federal prison in Texas
for his 2020 conviction on charges of murder-for-hire and violating federal wildlife