The couple, who took over the once popular “Tiger King” roadside animal park after Joseph “Joe Exotic” Maldonado Passage went to jail, have officially all of their animals removed and their right to ever exhibit again terminated, federal authorities said.
Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe agreed to the measures, including ending their interests in 97 endangered or threatened animals confiscated from their facility and relinquishing their rights to an additional 41 animals covered by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) as part of one The US Department of Justice announced on Monday.
Federal agencies have also secured a ruling against Tiger King LLC and Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park LLC, both of which banned future animal displays, ended their interests in the animals confiscated from the Lowes’ facility, and permanently licensed the AWA-covered animals in Institutions selected by the United States.
The government prosecuted the couple and their company for “recurrent inhuman treatment and improper treatment of animals” at their Oklahoma zoo. Failure to provide “basic veterinary care, adequate food and safe living conditions for the animals” violates both the Animal Welfare Act and the Endangered Species Act, the federal authorities said.
The resulting consent decree “ensures that the animals abused and endangered by the Lowes are moved to safe homes in AWA-licensed facilities and prohibits the Lowes from exhibiting live animals,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Department of Justice’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources Department.
The imprisonment of “Joe Exotic” after convictions for contract murder and animal cruelty was documented in the successful Netflix documentary series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”.
One of the featured personalities on the show was Jeffrey Lowe, who convinced Maldonado Passage to put the Wynnewood, Oklahoma facility on his behalf after his legal troubles began.
After Joe Exotic was sentenced to 22 years in prison, Jeff and Lauren Lowe took over the park entirely and opened it in mid-2018. They ran the attraction until August 2020 when their own problems increased.
The Wynnewood facility showed nationwide protected animals, including tigers, lions and other big cats, a grizzly bear and ring-tailed lemur, the federal authorities said.
USDA Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service inspectors who visited in June and July 2020 reported that they found several animals in poor health while living in substandard conditions.
The Lowes did not provide “timely and adequate veterinary care,” the federal lawsuit against them said, “which resulted in the animals suffering from easily treatable diseases, which in some cases resulted in premature death.
“The animals were inadequately fed, were underweight and lacking nutrients, which made them prone to fractures, unable to stand or walk, and neurological problems,” she adds.
Because the Lowes also failed to maintain sanitary and safe conditions, the lawsuit alleges animals fell victim to flies that continuously attacked, bit and invaded their skin, laying eggs on open or irritated skin, and maggot infestation and painful wounds caused.
The inspectors also reported that they found “smelly, partially burned and rotting big cat carcasses” and a broken refrigerator truck with rotting meat.
As an example of neglect, the inspectors cited Nala, a 16-week-old lion cub who, in their opinion, was “sluggish, depressed” [and] thin ”, unable to“ get up from the mud even when asked ”.
Nala had discharge from her nose and eyes and sores on her ears and had difficulty breathing, they said.
A state-ordered examination by a veterinarian revealed an infection of the upper respiratory tract, dehydration and a urinary tract infection as well as a “chronic bone fracture”, fly infestation, parasites and fleas.
Nala was eventually relocated to a wildlife sanctuary in Colorado.
Jeff Lowe called the allegations “a litany of falsehoods” in a Facebook post.
“If we lose a lawsuit, we just change the name and open another business elsewhere,” the federal authorities quoted him as saying.
The USDA has suspended the Lowe Animal Welfare Act’s issuer license and has taken administrative action to permanently revoke it.
Days later, Lowe unilaterally terminated his license and “tried to move his operation beyond the USDA’s inspection and investigation,” the federal complaint said.
The Lowes then brought several animals to a property in Thackerville, Oklahoma, which is in the middle of a rural residential area, it is said.
The new site would be called “Tiger King Park,” and it would act as a film set for television shows and other video content – although the couple were not licensed to do so, federal prosecutors said.
The Lowes “continued to exhibit animals, both in person and for compensation through online platforms,” according to another federal complaint. “In addition to exhibiting without a license, the Lowes did not provide timely and adequate veterinary care or nutrition, did not ensure safe and hygienic conditions, and kept animals in enclosures that were too small and exposed to the elements.”
The federal prosecutor obtained a restraining order a year ago urging the Lowes to transfer ownership of all kittens under one year old and their respective mothers to the United States.
After the Lowes breached other terms of the restraining order by “breeding animals and not keeping records of the health of the animals in their care,” the government issued two civil seizure orders in May and confiscated 68 big cats and one jaguar. Federal agencies last year August secured the couple’s consent to give up their interests in all animals in Tiger King Park. The government took permanent possession of 11 endangered lemurs and 41 other animals.
Lowe had been in trouble before. In 2018, a judge suspended a jail sentence and ordered him $ 2,500 in compensation for doing business without a license in Las Vegas, the federal lawsuit said.
Lowe apparently ran an attraction called “The Jungle Bus,” which offered lions, tigers, bears, lemurs, kangaroos, and monkeys for private parties, casino events, photo shoots, films, and commercials – as well as “extended private encounters.” ,” it says.
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