U.S. Says Tiger King Park Should Face More Sanctions or Surrender All Animals

The United States told the Eastern District of Oklahoma on Friday that Tiger King, an exotic animals park featured in a Netflix series, is still not in compliance with the court’s orders. Specifically, the notice alleged that the defendants have not retained a veterinarian, have neglected to notify the government or court before obtaining or disposing of animals, and have not provided accurate records. 

The lawsuit began after the federal government filed a complaint in November 2020 alleging that Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park LLC, Tiger King LLC, and the park’s owners Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe were breaching the Endangered Species Act by illegally possessing exotic animals without a permit and not fulfilling reporting and safety requirements. The court has previously ruled in favor of the United States, and further that the defendants have neglected to comply with the court’s January orders

Following a hearing in May, the defendants provided records to the court to avoid a fine of $1,000 for each day for not complying with orders. According to the most recent filing, Tiger King and the other defendants are still not in compliance with the court’s orders from January 15, 2021 and March 22, 2021. In its May ruling, the court told the plaintiff to file a notice if the defendants were not in compliance by June 11.

“Not only have Defendants failed to cure the deficiencies identified by the United States in the motion to enforce and subsequent notices of compliance, but they have added additional violations of the Court’s orders,” the notice claimed. 

The United States said that because the defendants were “unfazed” by previous court orders and findings of contempt, the court should consider imposing additional sanctions including jail time or the plaintiffs should “voluntarily and permanently” surrender all animals to the United States for placement elsewhere. 

The United States explained that since the May hearing the defendants’ veterinarian left and has not been replaced. Reportedly, the parties knew by the hearing that the veterinarian would be leaving before the end of May, however, the defendants claimed that the veterinarian was still working for them during an inspection in early June, and then admitted they had no veterinarian after inspectors cited communications with the veterinarian. 

In the notice, the plaintiff noted that having no veterinarian puts the animals in the park at risk, and cited a red fox at the park with cancer which should have been humanely euthanized by a veterinarian and claimed the defendants “have unilaterally decided to simply watch the animal die.” The plaintiffs further cited animals at the park that inspectors found were in need of veterinary care. 

Inspectors reportedly also found that some animals were being fed dog kibble contaminated with flies and were not in good health, that several births, deaths, and transfers had occurred without notice to the United States, that a big cat seized by the plaintiff in May was bred in February breaching court orders, and that complete records have not yet been sent to the government. 
The defendants are represented by Daniel Card Law and the plaintiffs by attorneys with the United States Department of Justice.