(KTNV) — The United States government has seized 68 protected lions, tigers, lion-tiger hybrids, and a jaguar from Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe’s Tiger King Park in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
13 Investigates Chief Investigator Darcy Spears has been reporting on the legal trouble for Jeff Lowe in Las Vegas for several years. At this time, his Las Vegas case has not been resolved.
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According to a press release, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service conducted 3 inspections since mid-December 2020.
During these inspections, the Lowes received citations for failing to provide the animals with adequate or timely veterinary care, appropriate nutrition, and shelter that protects them from inclement weather and is of sufficient size to allow them to engage in normal behavior.
The Lowes were recently found in contempt after months of noncompliance with court orders requiring the Lowes, in part, to employ a qualified veterinarian and establish and maintain a program of veterinary care that meets the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act.
“This important animal rescue operation of nearly 70 endangered and allegedly abused lions, tigers, and a jaguar shows how effective civil forfeiture can be when utilized in conjunction with statutes like the Endangered Species Act,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
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According to court documents, the Lowes were actively breeding the animals to sell and were not reporting the addition of any Big Cat cubs or juveniles to the United States.
The documents also say that many the cats were underweight, had worms and had issues with their pads because of inadequate housing and abrasive environments. It is believe that at least three Big Cats have died of malnutrition since the end of September 2020.
The report also describes deteriorating conditions at Tiger Park and piles of rotting animals attracting flies and a refrigeration truck covered in flies, most likely filled with putrid meat.
Additionally, the park was not providing the animals adequate shelter to protect them from inclement weather and/or allow them to engage in normal behaviors for the species.
The Endangered Species Act protects protects imperiled species, such as tigers, both in the wild and in captivity.
Jeff Lowe’s wife, Lauren Lowe, is also accused in the report of threatening to kill a USA agent and of threatening to harm his children. Additionally, Jeff and Lauren Lowe and Jeff Lowe’s adult son, Taylor Lowe, verbally and physically harassed law enforcement personnel during inspections.
The USA agent believes much of the behavior was an apparent self-scripted effort to film the encounters that could be sold to Netflix for “Tiger King 2.”
"Today’s warrant and seizure punctuates a long series of federal actions to shut down an unethical roadside zoo operator," said Drew Edmondson, former Oklahoma Attorney General and co-chair of the National Law Enforcement Council for Animal Wellness Action. "Joe Exotic and Jeff Lowe ran slipshod operations and the chickens have come home to roost.
PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet, who appeared in the Netflix series, sent the following statement:
"There are no tigers left at Tiger King Park, and the Lowes’ reign of terror against threatened and endangered big cats may soon be over. If PETA has its way, these Tiger King villains will lose every other animal in their custody, too."
The case is being investigated by USDA and the Department of the Interior’s FWS. The U.S. Marshals were integral in executing the seizure warrant and securing the property, which allowed for the swift removal of the animals.