'Tiger King': Jeff Lowe to Claim Zookeeper Erik Cowie's Body

Tiger King star Erik Cowie was found dead in a New York City apartment earlier this month and reportedly has no close relatives. So another Tiger King star, the controversial Jeff Lowe, plans to claim Cowie's remains, Lowe told TMZ Sunday. A friend of Cowie's reportedly found him face down in the bedroom on Sept. 3. The cause of death is unknown, but sources told TMZ police do not suspect foul play.

If Cowie's body is not claimed after the medical examiner's office completes their investigation, Lowe told TMZ he plans to claim Cowie's remains. He does not want Cowie's body buried in a mass grave, and would rather give Cowie a "proper sendoff." Lowe and his wife Lauren Lowe want to pay to have Cowie cremated and hold a ceremony at his zoo in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

Lowe told TMZ they might live-stream the memorial on Facebook Live so friends and fans can watch. They also want to spread Cowie's ashes alongside Cowie's favorite cat, a liger named Django, who died last year. Cowie's remains are still unclaimed as of Sunday morning, TMZ reports.

Last week, TMZ reported Cowie was found dead at a New York City apartment. Law enforcement sources later told the site Cowie was in the city visiting, as Cowie lived and worked in Oklahoma. Investigators found a large bottle of vodka at the scene and they learned Cowie used alcohol "excessively." No drugs were reportedly found at the scene.

Cowie was one of the many personalities featured in the hit Netflix documentary series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness, as he worked for Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic, for years. He became one of the most experienced animal handlers at Exotic's Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, even working there after Exotic was convicted of animal abuse and the murder-for-hire plot to kill Carole Baskin. Cowie also testified against Exotic, claiming that he saw Exotic shoot and kill animals. Before Cowie began working for Exotic, he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. Earlier this year, he was arrested for DUI in Oklahoma after a car accident and pleaded guilty. He missed a court date though, and an arrest warrant was issued.

0comments

After hearing about Cowie's death, Exotic showed no sympathy in a Daily Mail interview from jail. "The next time I saw him was at my trial when he was [sitting] up there lying his a— off because he needed to kiss Jeff's a— to stay at my zoo and to be the big cat hero on Netflix," Exotic said. "So am I shocked he is gone? No, not a bit. I put him through rehab in Ardmore Oklahoma and still [gave] him a home and a job. He had a horrible disease of alcohol."

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call the National Drug Helpline at (844) 289-0879.