Lions, tigers, and other big cats, oh my!
A little over a year after the release of Netflix documentary Tiger King, the Tiger King Park is no more. On Thursday, according to NPR, federal agents seized 68 lions, tigers, and other big cats from Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe, the Tiger King Park owners who appeared in the hit Netflix show alongside "big-cat collecter" Joe Exotic.
The Oklahoma couple was sued by the Justice Department back in November for "allegedly violating the Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act." The Lowes are accused of exhibiting the big cats without a license, as well as failing to provide proper care.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which "has conducted three inspections at the park since December," found that the animals had "inadequate and untimely veterinary care," "insufficient shelter," and a "nutritionally deficient diet," being provided only boneless chicken and a horse weight gain supplement called Gleam & Gain—neither of which provides "the necessary diet for Big Cats."
An affidavit stated in no uncertain terms: "The Lowes have consistently failed to provide their Big Cats with a diet containing the necessary nutrients to allow them to grow properly and thrive."
According to the affidavit, the effects of the Lowes' alleged neglect are clear: several of the big cats "appeared to be suffering from stunted growth, lameness and neurological abnormalities and skin lesions."
Jean E. Williams, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, said, "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."
NPR reports that the animals, which include a jaguar and lion-tiger hybrids, "will be moved to preserves where they will receive care and rehabilitation."
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