The owner of an animal park made famous by the Tiger King documentary series has been accused of threatening to kill an official carrying out an animal inspection, and making threats against his family.
In an affadavit from Special Agent Kevin L. Seiler that was shared by the Department of Justice following the seizure of almost 70 animals from the Thackerville, Oklahoma park, co-owner Lauren Lowe is accused of harassing officials during their work.
The affadavit notes “Lauren Lowe communicated a threat to kill me”, which the agent says he found “especially intimidating because their former Tiger King business partner [Joe Exotic] is serving a prison sentence for hiring a hit man to assassinate a business rival in another state”.
Ms Lowe reportedly commented to another agent present at the park “I’m gonna kill him”, the affadavit said.
“Lauren Lowe also screamed and bombarded me personally with non-specific direct threats to me and my children on multiple occasions, referencing my children being taken away from me,” the affadavit continued. “This happened on multiple occasions when I was attempting to answer questions, give directions, and when I needed to complete required documentation of the seized wildlife.”
Dozens of big cats have been seized from the animal park amid allegations of mistreatment.
The operation saw 69 animals removed from the park, which is owned by Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe, with some of the animals reportedly appearing to be malnourished, while the park itself was described as having a “stench of rotting animals”.
Among the animals rescued were 46 tigers, a jaguar, and seven lions, the Department of Justice confirmed.
“This important animal rescue operation of nearly 70 endangered and allegedly abused lions, tigers, and a jaguar shows how effective civil forfeiture can be when utilised in conjunction with statutes like the Endangered Species Act,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
“We are proud to have partnered with the Environment and Natural Resources Division to protect these amazing animals, and will work to ensure that they go to responsible animal preserves where they can be safely maintained rather than exploited.”
Officials have reportedly conducted three inspections of the Lowe’s park since December 2020, and received citations following the inspections, “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”.
It is also alleged that these breaches are in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
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