Erik Cowie, the zookeeper of Netflix’s Crazy Animal Documentary Series ‘Tiger King’ has passed away at the age of 53.
Authorities found Cowie’s body in New York City on Sept. TMZ reported:, after a friend found him face down in a bedroom.
It’s unclear why the animal trainer was in the Big Apple, since he lived in Oklahoma. No drugs were found and a toxicology report will be prepared.
Cowie appeared on the reality show as one of now-imprisoned star Joe Exotic’s longtime zookeepers. After Joe, 58, was sent to prison, Cowie stayed and cared for his big cats at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.
He later testified against the zookeeper who allegedly abused and killed some of his animals.
Cowie was caught for a DUI in Oklahoma earlier this year after being involved in a car accident. He pleaded guilty and was due to be sentenced shortly after the incident, but he failed to show up for his hearing.
Many fans have speculated in the past that Cowie’s crooked teeth were due to the use of meth. He denied that rumor, once saying that his poor pearly whites were due to old age. He received teeth implants in July 2020 from fellow “Tiger King” star Jeff Lowe.
Cowie had admitted to being a… drinking problem in the past and according to TMZ, he previously said that he was “at the end of” [his] rope” with his alcoholism before he found Joe.
Joe, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is currently employed for 22 years at a federal medical prison in Fort Worth, Texas, after allegedly trying to hire two hitmen to kill his corporate rival, Carole Baskin.
Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue was granted control of Exotic’s zoo in Wynnewood by a judge in 2020, as part of the settlement in its long-running trademark lawsuit against Exotic. Baskin sold the Oklahoma property and one of the stipulations is that the land cannot be used as a zoo for 100 years. lowe turned all the animals over from Exotic Zoo to the DOJ.