Big cats seized from zoo belonging to Tiger King star Jeff Lowe
US authorities have now seized nearly 70 big cats from the Tiger King star
The US Justice Department said in an announcement that they had rescued the animals from Tiger King star Jeff Lowe's Tiger King Park in Oklahoma.
"This seizure should send a clear message that the Justice Department takes alleged harm to captive-bred animals protected under the Endangered Species Act very seriously," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division in a statement.
Lowe and his wife, Lauren Lowe, have been accused of violating laws on animal welfare and endangered species.
A team of officials who went to inspect the zoo on three occasions since December last year reportedly issued multiple citations for failure to properly look after the big cats.
According to a news release issued by the US Justice Department, the pair were cited 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 behaviour" during the inspections.
In an affidavit, prosecutors said they believed one jaguar, seven lions, 15 lion-tiger hybrids and 46 tigers kept by Lowe and his wife, Lauren, had been sold, bought or transported, which in turn would violate the Endangered Species Act.
The affidavit said: "There is probable cause to believe that the 68 big cats and the jaguar continue to be harmed and harassed and, therefore, unlawfully taken in violation of the ESA."
Jeff Lowe is the ex-business partner of Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage.
Exotic is still serving a 22-year prison sentence for his murder-for-hire plot to kill Carole Baskin, as well as for animal abuse.