Judge Says Jeff Lowe of Tiger King Must Pay PETA $180,000+ Over Lion Cruelty Case

For Immediate Release:
April 22, 2022

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Oklahoma City – The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma has just ordered animal exhibitor and Tiger King villain Jeff Lowe to pay $183,557.90 in attorneys’ fees and costs to PETA, stemming from the group’s successful Endangered Species Act (ESA) lawsuit against him. In the first court decision establishing that Lowe’s treatment of animals was so deficient that it violated the ESA, the court had ruled in February that he “treated four lions … with appalling cruelty.” Now, he must pay the piper.

“No amount of money can undo the suffering that these lions endured, but the judge has sent a clear signal that animal abuse comes with a hefty price tag,” says PETA Foundation Director of Litigation Asher Smith. “This fresh blow will make it harder for Lowe to do business, and PETA asks the public to wipe out other animal exploiters by shunning all roadside zoos.”

Lowe was added as a defendant in PETA’s lawsuit against his former business partner, fellow Tiger King subject Tim Stark, after they both violated multiple court orders in the case by transporting the four cubs at the center of the suit to Lowe’s Wynnewood property. One of them, Kahari, died only days before PETA could facilitate her rescue. The court agreed that Lowe—who had lied about the circumstances of Kahari’s death and left her body outside to decompose beyond the point at which a necropsy could determine its cause—was responsible for her death.

The court also found Lowe liable for a number of violations, including failing to take adequate COVID-19 precautions and failing to hire a veterinarian with sufficient training; feeding lions only rancid meat; and having a lack of adequate enclosures, which contributed to gruesome injuries, including a bite wound that required part of the paw of one lion, named Amelia, to be amputated.

PETA’s prior victories allowed the group to rescue the three surviving cubs, along with 22 other big cats—including Nala, who likely would have died if PETA hadn’t intervened. The group will put the fee award toward its efforts to free other animals from decrepit roadside zoos and will continue in its efforts to recoup payments from Lowe and Stark, the latter of whom owes PETA more than $750,000 in legal fees and other costs.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind