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Seized big cats from Tiger King Park taken in by sanctuaries

▶ Watch Video: Feds seize 68 big cats from “Tiger King” animal park

All of the big cats that federal authorities recently seized from Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe’s Tiger King Park have been accepted by accredited sanctuaries throughout the country, according to the Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, Minnesota. The sanctuary’s announcement comes days after the Department of Justice announced the seizure of 46 tigers, 15 lion-tiger hybrids, seven lions and one jaguar from the Thackerville, Oklahoma, park. 

The Lowes, who have been accused of mistreating their animals, are best known for their appearance in the popular “Tiger King” docu-series. 

“I am thankful for the coordinated effort of several reputable sanctuaries and federal agencies to ensure these cats were safely removed,” founder and executive director of the Wildcat Sanctuary Tammy Thies said in the sanctuary’s Facebook post.

The Minnesota sanctuary said several of the seized animals are being cared for at their rescue facility while the government seeks permanent forfeiture. It also offered to transport and supply a permanent home to each of Tiger King Park’s smaller cats if needed. 

Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro, North Carolina, announced Tuesday that four of the 69 seized animals were being cared for at their facility. Two other big cats are being housed under the care of the Lions Tigers & Bears animal sanctuary in Alpine, California. 

“With several accredited sanctuary teams working together with the federal officials, it was an efficient and seamless operation,”  Lions Tigers & Bears Founder and Director Bobbi Brink said in a statement

For years, the Lowes operated the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, which was previously owned by the docu-series’ star Joseph Maldanado, also known as “Joe Exotic.” But Lowe’s Animal Welfare Act exhibitor license was suspended in August for “inadequate” and “improper” care and handling of animals, prosecutors said. The couple then relocated to Thackerville, Oklahoma, the home of the 33-acre Tiger King Park. 

Since December of 2020, the Lowes’ Tiger King Park has undergone three inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, where they received citations for allegedly harming and harassing their animals. Prosecutors also said the couple did not comply with court orders that required them to employ a qualified veterinarian and create a veterinary care program in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act. The Lowes were recently found in contempt of that order, the DOJ said.  

“The Lowes’ animals have suffered from and continue to suffer from easily preventable or treatable conditions, which in some cases has caused the untimely death of animals,” the November complaint from the Justice Department said. “Indeed, in the last two years, many animals have not been seen and/or treated by a veterinarian at all.”

Brink — who has criticized the docu-series for failing to fully depict the suffering of big cats in facilities like the Lowes’ — said the health of the relocated animals is essential to the sanctuaries that have taken them in. 

“Our priority was relocating these big cats to accredited sanctuaries where they will receive proper veterinary care, diet, shelter and habitats while the court decides what’s next,” she said. 



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