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The Devastating Death Of Tiger King's Erik Cowie

Erik Cowie, who became a household name after his appearance on the hit Netflix docuseries "Tiger King," has died at the age of 53, according to a report from TMZ published September 7, 2021. Cowie worked as the head zookeeper at the Greater Wynewood Exotic Animal Park for five years. He played a critical role in sentencing his former boss, Joe Exotic (real name Joseph Allen Schreibvogel), to prison. Cowie testified at Schreibvogel's trial, admitting that his one-time boss would walk up point-blank to cages and shoot cats (via Express).

TMZ reports that Cowie was found dead in New York City, a good distance away from his home in Oklahoma. As of this writing, there's no indication of what he died of, and no illicit substances were discovered at the scene. He was found by a friend face down in the bathroom, so look out for more details on this case as they come to light.

Erik Cowie's death comes after legal trouble

In the "Tiger King" series, Erik Cowie admits to being "at the end of [his] rope" when he met Joe Exotic and agreed to work for him at his big cat park. He suffered from alcohol problems, which he admitted on the show, and those issues seemed to surface after the documentary came out. In May 2021, authorities arrested him for DUI following a collision with another vehicle (via TMZ). He immediately pleaded guilty to the charges but failed to make his court date later that month. Due to the no-show, he was potentially looking at jail time, and the judge issued an arrest warrant with his bond set at $2,500. 

Despite fan speculation Cowie took crystal meth due to the appearance of his teeth on "Tiger King," Cowie remained adamant he never did any other drugs. On the aftershow special of "Tiger King," hosted by Joel McHale, Cowie stated, "All my teeth are jacked up. I'm sorry. I'm old, man. It's what happens. It's gonna happen to you, too. And no, I don't do meth. I never have. I like sleeping too much."

Our thoughts go out to Cowie's loved ones and fans at this time.