The Department of Justice has filed a civil complaint against Tiger King star Jeffrey Lowe and Tiger King LLC alleging violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act.
The lawsuit accuses Lowe along with his wife, Lauren, of "illegally taking, possessing, and transporting protected animals, and the Animal Welfare Act by exhibiting without a license and placing the health of animals in serious danger."
Lowe is the owner of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park and Tiger King LLC, and a former business associate of Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage – better known as Joe Exotic. The pair starred together in Netflix docuseries Tiger King, which became one of the platform's most streamed shows of all time when it was released earlier this year.
Joe Exotic was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison in April 2018 after a court found him guilty of two counts of murder for hire against fellow Tiger King star Carole Baskin, and 17 counts of animal abuse.
Lowe has also faced legal action over the mistreatment of animals in the past. The complaint from the DOJ comes after the USDA suspended Lowe's license to exhibit animals to the public in August this year. Lowe called the suspension a "litany of falsehoods”.
According to the DOJ’s lawsuit, Lowe voluntarily terminated his license and attempt to move 160 big cats to a new facility called Tiger King Park in Oklahoma, moving all activities online in an attempt to subvert the USDA’s ruling.
In a statement, principal deputy assistant attorney general Jonathan D Brightbill said the couple had failed to provide "basic veterinary care, appropriate food, and safe living conditions for the animals".
The complaint also seeks to "permit immediate inspection of the facility, to prevent the Lowes from exhibiting their animals in person or through online platforms, to prevent the Lowes from acquiring or disposing of any animals during the injunction, and for any and all veterinary records for any animals treated during the injunction."
Following the DOJ's new lawsuit, PETA issued a statement, saying: "The dominos are continuing to fall with nearly every animal abuser featured in 'Tiger King' now in custody, out of business, or facing lawsuits or charges, including criminal charges. The DOJ's lawsuit is another sign that Lowe's animal-exploiting days are numbered and that the big cat cub-petting industry is finished, something that PETA has worked hard for."