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Tiger King Agrees to Surrender Exotic Animals to Resolve Endangered Species Act Lawsuit

Yellowstone National Park

Buffalos grazing at Hayden Valley, Yellowstone, National Park, Wyoming, USA

The United States, plaintiff in a lawsuit against Netflix-featured Tiger King, said in a notice on Monday that the defendants agreed to give up all rights to the exotic animals that remain in Tiger King Park, following its request. 

Reportedly, the plaintiff received the abandonment form from the defendants, Tiger King LLC, Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park LLC, and owners Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe, last Friday. Since the initial lawsuit was filed in November 2020, the United States has claimed that the defendants are treating their animals inhumanely and breaching the Endangered Species Act. This agreement by the defendants to give the exotic animals to the government could mean the end of the legal battle. 

The Oklahoma Eastern District court, which oversees the lawsuit, consistently ruled in favor of the plaintiff, and found multiple times that the defendants had not followed orders from the court including a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order. Tiger King reportedly failed to hire a veterinarian, submit birth and death records, stop displaying animals, and not breed additional endangered animals. 

Although they did provide records after a hearing where the court determined that they would face a fine and sanctions for noncompliance, the defendants allegedly continued to breach court orders. In June, the U.S. asked the court to determine that the park should either face more sanctions or surrender its animals, saying that the defendants were “unfazed” by previous court orders. 

Near the end of July, the court denied a motion to dismiss some of the claims and another motion from Daniel J. Card, attorney for the defendants, for a withdrawal determining that he could not withdraw until the matter is settled or another attorney appeared in an attempt to not cause a delay in the case. 

The government said it “is making arrangements to take possession of the animals this week” and that it plans to place each animal with facilities that are reputable and licensed. After it does this, it will file a report to tell the court the status of the animals.

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