'Tiger King's Jeff Johnson Dead at 58

Tiger King star Jeff Johnson has died. Johnson, a reptile dealer who appeared in the hit Netflix docuseries' first season in March 2020 passed away at his Oklahoma home in September of this year. The Oklahoma City Police Department confirmed to TMZ over the weekend that Johnson died by suicide. He was 58.

According to an incident report obtained by TMZ, Johnson was arguing with his wife in their garage on Wednesday, Sept. 8 when he "brought a Glock-style handgun up to his head" and took his own life. Their children were home at the time. His wife immediately called 911 for an attempted suicide, and Johnson was pronounced dead upon arrival at a nearby hospital. Johnson's wife told authorities that her husband had not suffered from any mental illness and had not experienced any prior attempted suicide.

Johnson was among the numerous personalities featured in the hit Netflix documentary series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. He appeared in Season 1, Episode 4, "Playing with Fire," of the hit Netflix docuseries to talk about Carole Baskin, the Big Cat Rescue owner and rival of Joe Exotic, who is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence. According to TMZ, Johnson reportedly had a rivalry with Exotic. The two both worked in the exotic animal world and had been friends, though they allegedly had a falling out once Jeff Lowe came into the picture.

Johnson's passing marks the latest tragedy to hit Tiger King since the docuseries took the internet by storm back in March 2020. In September, fellow Tiger King subject Erik Cowie was found dead in a New York City apartment. Cowie was in New York to visit a friend. 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. The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner later confirmed Cowie died from acute and chronic alcohol use. His manner of death was described as natural. He was 53. Cowie was a zookeeper who worked at Exotic's Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park and was featured in Netflix's Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.


If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.