WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal court judge ordered Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe, Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, LLC and Tiger King LLC to immediately surrender all Big Cat cubs to the United States government for placing in suitable facilities.
On Jan. 15th, U.S. District Court Judge John F. Heil III ordered all cubs, under one year of age, and their mothers to be relinquished to the government. The court also ordered the Lowes to give records showing all the animals acquired and disposed of since June 2020, and to retain an attending veterinarian.
“The Lowes have showed a shocking disregard for both the health and welfare of their animals, as well as the law,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jonathan D. Brightbill of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We are gratified the court agrees and ordered Mr. Lowe to stop ignoring his obligations under the Animal Welfare Act and the Endangered Species Act.”
The court found the Lowes failed to provide safe conditions, timely veterinary care and proper nutrition for several animals, including the death of two tiger cubs, which happened less than two weeks apart from one another.
Also, the court ordered the Lowes, along with anyone acting on their behalf which includes Eric Yano and Stephens Lane LLC, to stop exhibiting animals without a valid United States Department of Agriculture license.
The court was not persuaded by the defendants’ argument that they were not “exhibitors” under the Animal Welfare Act because the zoo was still under construction. The court found that the Lowes’ prior licensure and exhibition of animals, promoting Tiger King Park’s grand opening, making their animals available to the public through online platforms for compensation, and allowing camera crews onto the property to film for a show to appear on Netflix constituted “exhibiting” as contemplated by the Animal Welfare Act.
“This decision sends a clear message to both licensed and unlicensed exhibitors of the Animal Welfare Act’s reach,” said USDA Acting General Counsel Tyler S. Clarkson. “USDA looks forward to continuing its close partnership with the Justice Department to litigate these cases and enforce the Animal Welfare Act.”
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