US federal officials seized 68 big cats from Jeff and Lauren Lowe, stars of the hit Netflix show Tiger King.
On Thursday, the US Justice Department announced they had confiscated the exotic animals from the couple’s Tiger King Park in Oklahoma.
Officials have inspected the zoo three times since December 2020 and have issued multiple citations for failure to properly care for the animals.
7 lions, 46 tigers, 15 lion-tiger hybrids, and one jaguar were recovered.
The Lowes are both accused of violating US laws on endangered species and animal welfare.
During government inspections, they were repeatedly cited “for failing to provide the animals with adequate or timely veterinary care, appropriate nutrition, and shelter that protects them from inclement weather and is of sufficient size to allow them to engage in normal behaviour”, a Justice Department statement said.
The couple were found to be in contempt after failing to follow court orders to hire a qualified veterinarian to ensure that the cats could receive levels of care required under the Animal Welfare Act.
Many of the animals were found to have bone disorders due to calcium deficiency from eating boneless and ground meat, officials say.
In a federal affidavit, officials said the Lowes harassed government workers during inspections, with Mrs Lowe at one point threatening to kill a wildlife official.
“The statement was especially intimidating because their former Tiger King business partner is serving a prison sentence for hiring a hitman to assassinate a business rival in another state,” the charging document states.
Mr Lowe is the former business partner of Joe Exotic, star of the hit show.
Exotic, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is currently serving a 22-year sentence for his involvement in a contract killing plot and animal abuse.