13 Investigates


Fate of animals at Tiger King Park worries advocates after feds seize big cats from Jeff Lowe

Conditions at park called toxic for environment
Drone images of Tiger King Park in Thackerville, OK
Drone images of Tiger King Park in Thackerville, OK
Drone images of Tiger King Park in Thackerville, OK
Drone images of Tiger King Park in Thackerville, OK
Drone images of Tiger King Park in Thackerville, OK
Drone images of Tiger King Park in Thackerville, OK
Drone images of Tiger King Park in Thackerville, OK
Drone images of Tiger King Park in Thackerville, OK
Drone images of Tiger King Park in Thackerville, OK
Drone images of Tiger King Park in Thackerville, OK
Posted at 9:25 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-29 00:30:35-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Jeff Lowe cut a plea deal in Las Vegas in 2018.

He got probation instead of jail for illegally exhibiting exotic animals -- selling photo ops with tiger cubs in Las Vegas neighborhoods.

As one condition of that deal, Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge Cedric Kerns ordered Lowe to stay out of trouble.

But it seems that was too tall an order, and animals could be the ones paying the price.

Video provided by TMZ shows federal authorities from U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the USDA this month confiscating 68 protected lions, tigers, lion-tiger hybrids, and a jaguar from Jeff and Lauren Lowe’s Tiger King Park in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

The feds were executing a search and seizure warrant for ongoing Endangered Species Act and animal welfare violations.

Prosecutors say the endangered animals were allegedly abused.

"The Lowes left on the morning the feds came in, May 17, which was a Monday morning," said Steve Hindi, president of SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness --or SHARK.

The animal protection organization uses technology, like drones and cameras, to document conditions animals are kept in.

While tracking the animals at Tiger King Park over several months, they had run-ins with the Lowes.

"When we first flew our drones over his property, his wife [Lauren] was running around with a pistol," said Hindi, which you can see in video SHARK posted on YouTube from Jan. 25.

In that same video, Lowe himself threatens to shoot the drone down in an exchange with Steve Hindi:

Jeff Lowe: "Whether it's legal or not, it will come down."
Steve Hindi: "Whether it's legal or not you'll shoot the drone down?"
Jeff Lowe: "Yes, I'll face the repercussions."

According to this affidavit, during the execution of the search and seizure warrant on May 6, Lauren Lowe threatened to kill a federal agent from U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

"These people, in my opinion, they have no respect for the animals, for their neighbors or even for themselves," said Hindi.

On May 18, SHARK began filming again.

"We were really interested in what was happening after the authorities and the rescue party left."

Authorities were only authorized to confiscate the big cats because they're protected by the Endangered Species Act.

They left the rest of the animals behind.

"There were horses, there was a burro, there were a couple of ponies, there was the camel, the wolves, there were some primates..." Hindi says.

Also, tortoises, lemurs, emus, goats, caracals, bobcats, foxes and serval cats.

Plus, new claims from neighbors.

"They have released some of the animals into the neighborhood," said Hindi.

People living nearby tell 13 Investigates they've seen an albino raccoon, a porcupine and a peacock that used to live at the park.

As for those still on the property, Hindi says, "There were still quite a few animals there. And they were not getting adequate and proper care. Somebody was there but they weren't there on a regular basis."

Of particular concern is a camel, which SHARK filmed sticking his neck out under his enclosure fence, straining to reach some greenery.

Drone images of Tiger King Park in Thackerville, OK
Drone images show animals left behind at Tiger King Park in Thackerville, OK after federal authorities seized nearly 70 big cats protected by the Endangered Species Act. Drones also captured images of conditions on the facility grounds.

"If the camel was really being properly and adequately fed, why does he need to do that?" Hindi wonders.

Jeff Lowe didn't return our calls or texts. A source close to the Lowes claims this is normal behavior for the camel and that he's well cared for.

But improper animal care, including inadequate food, shelter and veterinary care, are some of the things that originally got the Lowes in trouble with federal authorities.

A USDA inspector documented "At least three big cats under the age of 1 year who died as a result of malnutrition since the end of September 2020" and two more less than a year old that "Died under suspicious circumstances during that same time."

Hindi says the animals are only part of the problem on the Tiger King property right now, pointing to more images SHARK's drone captured last weekend.

"It was kind of half-burned but it was just loaded with bones and decaying carcasses. And on top of that, just junk, just garbage: cans, bottles, including containers--used containers of oil and bleach--and the remnants of those containers were like a sheen on the standing water."

Then... It rained and he said the water started flowing.

"It's not just the Lowe property that's being poisoned, but actually getting on to neighboring properties."

They've shared the images with Oklahoma environmental authorities.

USDA has been noting similar issues at the park.

At a May 6 inspection, a USDA veterinarian noted a "Strong stench" coming from "A pile of rotting animals attracting flies," as well as "Rotting carcasses inside some enclosures and a refrigeration truck covered in flies, likely filled with putrid meat."

"When the breeze would blow off their property onto the neighboring property where we were allowed to take off in the end, it was just rank, it was just vile," Hindi said.

SHARK's drone images also show garbage strewn across the porch and yard of what looks like a residential structure on the property.

"It's a danger to everyone so long as that property remains the way it is," Hindi believes.

A number of animal groups have volunteered to rescue the remaining animals and Hindi says some animals have disappeared from the property, which may be a good thing...

"But when it's the Lowes that are making them disappear, you don't know what's going on," he cautioned.

13 Investigates has been unable to confirm where those animals have gone as Jeff Lowe is not responding to our calls or texts.

All this is going on in Oklahoma as the Las Vegas case drags on.

"I hope the judge will finally lose patience with this guy who keeps making a mockery of the judge and the whole court system," Hindi said. "Until somebody really slaps him down good, he's just more emboldened."

Lowe has told his lawyer he wants out of the animal business due to too many issues with federal agencies.

SHARK Investigator Mike Cobliska says they'll be watching, "And if he pops up somewhere else, we're going to document what he's doing with those animals out there. And hopefully, Las Vegas gets a little justice and slows him down somewhat."

The latest continuance in the Las Vegas case came after claims that Lowe had a stroke and couldn't travel from Oklahoma.

A new hearing is scheduled for June 9.

Lowe may face six months in jail if he's found to have violated the terms of his plea deal.

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