(5-26-21) Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion, Indiana a non-profit animal sanctuary is now home to four tigers rescued from “Tiger King” star Jeff Lowe who was featured on the infamous Netflix show “Tiger King,” that housed lions, tigers, lion-tiger hybrids and a jaguar at his Thackerville, Oklahoma facility.

Black Pine Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit that houses more than 100 displaced and captive-raised exotic animals, has taken in four of the 68 tigers seized from Jeff and Lauren Lowe.

Executive Director Trish Nichols

“Black Pine is thrilled that we are able to house and care for these majestic animals. What a tremendous undertaking this has been! Black Pine is honored to partner with federal agencies and other accredited sanctuaries to rescue and protect these amazing creatures.”

While in the care of Black Pine, each animal will receive veterinary care, diets designed for each animal’s health needs, enrichment activities and large natural habitats to live in.

Professional Animal Retirement Center (PARC), Inc., known locally as Black Pine Animal Sanctuary was established in 2000 to provide refuge to displaced, captive-raised exotic animals for the rest of their lives and to educate people about responsible animal care and conservation.

The sanctuary is offering staff-guided tours by reservation Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the summer.

Reservations can be made by visiting www.bpsanctuary.org.

The Justice Department recently ordered the Lowes to hand over the animals amid alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act. 

Jeffrey Lowe and Tiger King LLC Ordered to Relinquish Big Cat Cubs to United States for Placement in Suitable Facilities

On Jan. 15, 2021, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction in favor of the United States and against Jeffrey and Lauren Lowe, Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park LLC, and Tiger King LLC based on claimed violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Animal Welfare Act. 

U.S. District Court Judge John F. Heil III ordered the Lowes to immediately surrender all Big Cat cubs under the age of one year and their mothers to the government for the pendency of the injunction.  The court also ordered the defendants to retain an attending veterinarian and to provide records accounting for all animals acquired and disposed of since June 2020.  The court further ordered the defendants and anyone acting on their behalf, including Eric Yano and Stephens Lane LLC, to cease exhibiting animals without a valid U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) license. 

Acting Assistant Attorney General Jonathan D. Brightbill of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division

“The Lowes have showed a shocking disregard for both the health and welfare of their animals, as well as the law.  “We are gratified the court agrees and ordered Mr. Lowe to stop ignoring his obligations under the Animal Welfare Act and the Endangered Species Act.” 

USDA Acting General Counsel Tyler S. Clarkson

“This decision sends a clear message to both licensed and unlicensed exhibitors of the Animal Welfare Act’s reach. USDA looks forward to continuing its close partnership with the Justice Department to litigate these cases and enforce the Animal Welfare Act.”

The court found that the Lowes’ failure to provide safe conditions, proper nutrition, and timely veterinary care resulted in harm to a number of animals, including the death of two tiger cubs less than a week apart.  Such evidence indicated that the defendants’ remaining Endangered Species Act protected animals are at risk of harm and convinced the court to grant the government’s motion for temporary restraining order and motion for preliminary injunction.  The court also found that the defendants’ pattern and practice of providing substandard care and their failure to employ a qualified attending veterinarian placed the health of the defendants’ animals in serious danger under the Animal Welfare Act, requiring injunctive relief.  Although long authorized by statute, this case marks the first time that the government sought civil judicial injunctive relief under the Animal Welfare Act. 

The court was not persuaded by the defendants’ argument that they were not “exhibitors” under the Animal Welfare Act because the zoo was still under construction.  The court found that the Lowes’ prior licensure and exhibition of animals, promoting Tiger King Park’s grand opening, making their animals available to the public through online platforms for compensation, and allowing camera crews onto the property to film for a show to appear on Netflix constituted “exhibiting” as contemplated by the Animal Welfare Act. 

Trial attorneys from the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Wildlife and Marine Resources are handling the case.  They are assisted by attorneys from the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.  The case is being investigated by USDA’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service and the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service.

The case is United States v. Lowe, et al., No. 20-423 (E.D. Okla.).