tiger

THACKERVILLE, Okla. (AP) — Federal officials have removed the last of the 68 big cats from the private zoo in Oklahoma that had been the center of the "Tiger King" saga.

A jaguar was among the last cat removed from Tiger King Park in Thackerville, a few miles north of Oklahoma's border with Texas, The Oklahoman reported Sunday.

The turbulent beginnings of the zoo were the subject of the final episode of the Netflix true-crime series "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness." Zookeeper Jeff Lowe moved the cats to a Thackerville property after the August shutdown of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.

The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday announced the seizure of the federally protected lions, tigers, lion-tiger hybrids and a jaguar as part of a court-approved agreement to resolve a federal complaint against Lowe and his wife, Lauren Lowe, over the animals' care.

The civil complaint, filed in November, accused the Lowes of recurring inhumane treatment and improper handling of animals protected by the Endangered Species Act. The couple received numerous citations for failing to properly care for the animals following three inspections of the Tiger King Park in Thackerville since December 2020.

During a hearing two weeks ago, a judge found the couple in contempt for failing to comply with court orders to employ a qualified veterinarian and establish a program of veterinary care for the animals. Daniel Card, an attorney for the couple, told a federal judge that the Lowes "want out completely."

Jeff Lowe was a central figure in "Tiger King" that featured a mullet-wearing zookeeper named Joe Exotic and became a cultural phenomenon last year. Joe Exotic, a pseudonym for Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is serving a 22-year sentence in federal prison in Texas for his 2020 conviction on charges that he participated in a murder-for-hire plot and violated federal wildlife laws.

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