Netflix’s “Tiger King” star Jeff Lowe has been accused of operating an unlicensed park and providing inadequate care for their endangered animals, according to a civil complaint filed Thursday.
The federal government filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Muskogee, Oklahoma, against Lowe, his wife Lauren, the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park he took over from founder Joe Exotic, and Tiger King, LLC.
The U.S. Justice Department alleged that the Lowes and Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, LLC unlawfully established an unlicensed wildlife park on a 33-acre tract in in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
The zoo, dubbed "Tiger King Park," is being operated without a valid USDA Class C Exhibitor License, the federal government claimed in the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, the Lowes previously had an AWA license, under which they exhibited animals at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.
The federal government said the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service suspended the license on Aug. 14, 2020.
Jeff Lowe voluntarily terminated the license on Aug. 20, 2020 and agreed to pay more than $100,000 in delinquent state sales taxes from sales at the zoo.
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The Lowes continued to exhibit animals in an attempt to "avoid government investigation or inspection," the federal government alleged in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit referenced a quote by Jeff Lowe in January 2018 in which he claimed to have “learned a lot about distracting, diverting attention, and using smoke and mirrors in the last few years," adding that "if we lose a lawsuit, we simply change the name and open another animal business someplace else, we all have multiple USDA licenses available.”
The lawsuit also claims that the Lowes are housing more than 200 wild or exotic animals at the Thackerville facility, 100 to 200 of which are ESA-protected animals.
The federal government alleged that the Lowes provided inadequate and inhumane treatment for their animals by failing to provide veterinary care, feeding them inedible or contaminated food, and prematurely separating animal cubs and pups from their mothers.
The lawsuit also alleged that the Lowes did not maintain sanitary conditions or safe enclosures for the endangered animals housed at "Tiger King Park."
Many of the animals at the zoo are underweight as a result of nutritional deficiencies, and others suffer from easily preventable or treatable conditions, which in some cases have resulted in the untimely deaths of animals, the lawsuit claimed.
According to the federal government, many animals have not been seen or treated by a veterinarian at all in the last two years, and the Lowes and GWEAP LLC have burned or disposed of animal carcasses, including tigers, in makeshift pyres.
The lawsuit asked that the Lowes give up possession of all of their endangered animals and allow USDA agents to investigate and inspect the health of the animals and determine compliance with AWA regulations.
Lowe's attorney, Daniel Card of Oklahoma City, declined to comment until he has reviewed the complaint.
Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, is serving a 22-year sentence in Federal Medical Center Fort Worth for his January conviction on charges that he participated in a murder-for-hire plot and violated federal wildlife laws.