'Tiger King' Zookeeper in Even More Trouble After Court Date Drama

Tiger King subject Erik Cowie is facing even more trouble with the law following his recent scheduled court date in his DUI case. After Cowie, the former head zookeeper at Joe Exotic's former Oklahoma Zoo GW Exotic Animal Park, was arrested and booked for driving under the influence in April, he reportedly failed to appear for his May 25 sentencing.

Law enforcement sources told TMZ that Cowie, who pleaded guilty to the charges against him following his arrest, was initially set to get a relatively light sentence, though he will now likely be facing a much heavier one. The crime went down in Oklahoma, where customary sentencing for first-time DUI offenders, such as Cowie, is just probation, fines and fees, as well as a potential alcohol education program. After being a no-show at his sentencing earlier this week, however, Cowie could now be facing the maximum sentence for his charge, which includes up to a year in county jail. In the wake of his failure to make his court appearance, the judge on the case has also issued a bench warrant for Cowie's arrest, with his bond set at $2,500. At this time, it is unclear why Cowie missed his court date, and the Tiger King star has not yet publicly addressed his run-in with the law.

The charges against Cowie stem from an incident that occurred on an interstate highway in Oklahoma sometime in April. TMZ was first to report that police responded to a highway crash in which Cowie crashed his vehicle into another car. When they arrived on the scene, Cowie "reeked of booze," and he "bombed" a field sobriety test, law enforcement said. The zookeeper also reportedly confessed to having two beers before driving. His blood alcohol content registered at 0.11. Cowie was taken into police custody and transferred to jail. He was charged with driving under the influence and pleaded guilty. Neither party involved in the crash suffered injuries.

Cowie's legal drama comes as another Tiger King subject faces some legal drama of their own. Earlier in May, federal law enforcement officers seized "68 protected lions, tigers, lion-tiger hybrids, and a jaguar" Jeff Lowe and his wife Lauren's Tiger King Park in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The seizure came after an investigation that included three inspections on the park since December 2020 found that Lowe violated the Endangered Species Act. Lowe also appeared on the Netflix documentary. He eventually came to own Joe Exotic’s Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, the ownership of which was later awarded to Carole Baskin.