'Tiger King': Who Is Jeff Lowe, Joe Exotic's Predecessor?

Netflix's new docuseries, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, introduced viewers to a number of colorful characters and the bizarre murder-for-hire plot that rocked one Oklahoma-based roadside zoo. As Joe Exotic (real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage) struggled to balance the upkeep of his zoo and his feud with Carole Baskin, one figure, Jeff Lowe, swooped in to save the day, though he later turned out to be one of Exotic's biggest enemies.

With a history of animal keeping running in his family (his grandfather founded the Robin's Brothers Circus in 1928), Lowe had a love for animals and met Exotic in 2015 when he tried to buy a tiliger cub from him. It was during that meeting that he learned of Exotic's poor financial situation and offered a helping hand, becoming Exotic's partner, investing money in the roadside zoo, and rehoming several of his animals there. In 2016, according to iNews, Exotic, still facing financial struggles due to his legal battle with Carole Baskin, transferred his zoo to Lowe's name.

"When I met Jeff Lowe, I thought I could trust him and oh my god s— hit the fan," Exotic has said of his business relationship with Lowe. "I didn't know the mansion was rented and I didn't know he was behind on Ferrari payments and as soon as he got the zoo in his name, the evil side of Jeff and [his wife] Lauren came out."

As Exotic's feud with Baskin depend, the exotic animal keeper becoming involved in a murder-for-hire plot, Lowe, who was also being investigated by the federal government, became an informant and helped build the case that eventually landed Exotic behind bars.

"We were being looked at by the feds just like Joe was, so we knew that and we had to protect ourselves," Lowe explained in a recent interview with TMX.news. "And if it means turning over a guy to the federal authorities that killed not just five tigers — five tigers was just the tip of the iceberg. You know, he's killed a hundred tigers here that were not beneficial to him monetarily, and you know it's just the five that they picked, we knew exactly where they were buried and we knew exactly how they died, so it was the five easiest to prosecute him and convict him on."

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Now, Lowe and his wife, Lauren Lowe, are hoping to distance themselves from Exotic and reopen the zoo at another location, with Lauren telling KOCO News 5 following Exotic's sentencing in January of this year that "his name will not be mentioned. He will have nothing to do with the new facility. Going to let this place in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, die with him."

However, the Lowe's seem to be encountering problems of their own, with Tiger King producer Eric Goode revealing in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that the Lowes are "basically operating on fumes. No one is going now and there's no source of income, and that's been going on for a long time."