The Oklahoma park has been raided by federal authorities.
Back in March of 2020, when the pandemic was first confining all of us to our homes, Netflix released Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness. The absolutely bizarre story of the self-styled tiger owner Joe Exotic and his feud with wildlife preservationist Carole Baskin became a household name for a time (likely because our households were the only places we could go). In spite of Exotic’s incarceration, his park has remained open, operated by Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe, utilizing the notoriety of the docu-series to bring in more customers. However, with the increased interest has also come increased scrutiny of their business practices resulting today in a law enforcement raid.
With a search and seizure warrant backed by an affidavit claiming the animals under the Lowes’ care were “harmed and harassed,” federal law enforcement authorities seized a total of 68 large cats from the park’s ownership. This count includes 46 tigers, 15 lion-tiger hybrids, seven lions, and a jaguar.
“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,” acting Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams said a statement from the Department of Justice.
Nearly 70 big cats have been seized from an Oklahoma animal park owned by Jeff Lowe and his wife, Lauren, who were featured in Netflix's "Tiger King" documentary, the Department of Justice says https://t.co/ddNB2vcwNc
— CNN (@CNN) May 21, 2021
The author of the affidavit has remained anonymous, but according to them, the animals were forced to endure contaminated food, poor living conditions, and little-to-no veterinary care. Not only that, but park staff were also regularly subjected to verbal and physical abuse by the Lowes. This treatment even extended to law enforcement officers who attempted to execute a previous search warrant earlier this month.
“The relentless harassment, intimidation of personnel, and physical obstructions resulted in the creation of an unsafe environment during a high-liability law enforcement activity dealing with the difficult search, seizure and movement of very dangerous wildlife species,” the affidavit stated. “A mistake made in this environment could easily result in the loss of life or grievous injury to someone on the property.”