The Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness might have just been a blip in your early quarantine binge sessions, but the show has had lasting ramifications for its stars.
Most notably, the Department of Justice finally got around to rescuing Tiger King Park’s remaining animals.
After ownership was transferred to Jeff and Lauren Lowe, the park was closed due to mounting pressure from animal rights activists and inspectors following the show. They subsequently moved the animals to a new plot of land and attempted to open a new park called Tiger King Zoo. Fortunately, they lost their license to operate it in August 2020. However, the Lowe’s have somehow managed to hold on to the animals.
This all changed last week when the Justice Department announced the Lowe’s have “abandoned their right, title, and interest in the animals remaining at the Tiger King park.” They have since seized 60 animals from the park — including bobcats, foxes, and a camel — and placed them in suitable care facilities and sanctuaries.
This action follows the department’s demands back in January 2021 that all of the big cats and cubs in the park be surrendered, citing the couple’s violation of the Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act through their “failure to provide safe conditions, proper nutrition, and timely veterinary care.”
Although the Lowes claimed to be animal lovers and insisted they cared for the well-being of the tigers, lions, lion-tiger hybrids, jaguars, and other animals, the Justice Department disagreed. Acting Assistant Attorney General Jonathan D. Brightbill of the Environment and Natural Resources Division said,
“The Lowes have showed a shocking disregard for both the health and welfare of their animals, as well as the law.”
This is not the first time the government has gotten involved in the Tiger King Park controversy. In May 2021, U.S. authorities seized 68 big cats after an investigation by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior’s fish and wildlife service.
The Tiger King Park originally came to the public’s attention when Netflix released their docuseries in March 2020. The park was once owned by Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka Joe Exotic. He has since been sent to prison for trying to hire a hitman to kill Big Cat Rescue activist Carole Baskin.
Joe Exotic maintains his innocence and attempted to get a pardon from former President Trump. However, he was denied a pardon and remains in federal prison, where his attorneys believe he “will likely die” due to health issues.
The seizure of these animals due to animal cruelty will hopefully have viewers reconsidering dreams of taking selfies with baby cubs as well as educate them on why these wild, endangered animals deserve to exist in their natural environments rather than being caged, malnourished, and trotted out for our entertainment.
As for the Lowes, they claim to have plans to take over another big cat park located outside of the U.S. with over 400 animals.
Here’s to hoping no animal is ever under their care again, in or outside the U.S.
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Shannon Vize is a freelance writer and content strategist living in Brooklyn, NY. Her writing has been published by Elite Daily, Taylor Magazine, CIO, and Forbes. When she’s not hate-binging the latest episode of The Bachelor franchise, she’s busy trying to dismantle the patriarchy by dissecting the latest anti-feminist theme in pop culture to anyone who will listen.