LAS VEGAS — A man who was convicted of illegally cashing in on exotic tiger cubs in Las Vegas is now a household name thanks to the Netflix documentary series "Tiger King."
Jeff Lowe was featured prominently in Tiger King and currently owns and operates Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Garvin County, Oklahoma. On Sunday, a Facebook post from Lowe boasts of "... two of the busiest days this park has ever seen."
"The crowds have been huge since the Netflix show and we have difficulty in controlling that much traffic at one time. At one point today we had cars lined up 1/2 mile down the road," the post read.
Lowe's boasting of crowds came amid the coronavirus pandemic, where presidential guidance has recommended that people not gather in crowds of more than 10 people.
But flouting the law is business as usual for Lowe, who's still considered an outlaw in Las Vegas.
In 2018, Lowe was convicted for doing business without a license using unpermitted wild animal cubs as fodder for pricey photo ops.
When the City of Las Vegas served a search warrant in November 2017, they impounded a tiger, a liliger (hybrid cub from mating a liger and a lion) and a lemur.
According to vet records, two of the cubs were sick.
As part of the plea agreement, Lowe had to surrender the animals and pay $10,000 in restitution for their care.
In November 2018, Lowe was a no-show in Las Vegas municipal court.
"He is... He is not present," Lowe's attorney Adam Gill told Judge Cedric Kerns at the time. "He's working on restitution payment in Oklahoma. I understand the court's concerns, obviously."
According to the Las Vegas City Attorney, Lowe paid the $10,000 restitution in April 2019. But there are still four open cases in Las Vegas with active warrants for failure to complete status checks.
Lowe's troubles began when animal welfare advocates alerted authorities that Lowe was housing wild animals in area homes and sneaking them into strip casino hotel rooms in rolling suitcases.
They said Lowe cashed in on the exotic cubs by selling photo ops at private parties with celebrity clients in high roller suites.
"Our big concern here is they're breaking the bond between mother and cub," said Jeff Dixon of the Humane Society of the United States in 2018. "And they're putting the well-being of the animal second to their ability to make money off of them."
On his website at the time, Lowe also advertised the Jungle Bus, which would pick people up on the strip and take them to a "top secret hideout" to play with tigers.
At first, Lowe kept his exotic cubs at rented a home near the Tropical and Rainbow Casino, but Las Vegas city marshals raided that house, impounding the animals — and more.
"I'm aware of the firearms," a judge said to Lowe's lawyer in a 2018 hearing. "You've got ATF problems. I'm not even comfortable with him on the street."
A city property report shows marshals impounded multiple semi-automatic handguns and rifles at Lowe's home.
After his trouble in the city, Lowe moved to a rental home in Clark County.
Clark County Animal Control tried to make contact with him about more exotic animals in that house, but Lowe had already gone back to his home base in Oklahoma.
Lowe's name has gained nationwide notoriety lately through Tiger King. The documentary is based on Lowe's former partner, Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic.
Exotic is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence in a murder-for-hire plot for trying to arrange the killing of Carole Baskin, the founder of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida.
Jeff Lowe helped put Exotic behind bars. From prison, Exotic recently filed a federal lawsuit against government wildlife officials, Lowe and others.
"Lowe filed false statements to federal agents," Exotic's lawsuit reads. "He was the main person in this entrapment scheme to take my zoo for free. Changed my medicine with illegal drugs, stole my animals under fraudulent reasons. Destroyed my house with all my personal property in it. Coached and encouraged the government witnesses to lie under oath."
Lowe did not return calls or text messages for comment.
In his Sunday Facebook post, he wrote about being an agricultural entity, which he claimed allowed his zoo to remain open during the coronavirus pandemic.
He claimed he'd been assured of their exemption and had set up a conference call with Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt to confirm the zoo's ongoing operation under COVID-19 guidelines.
Stitt's office denies that they rececived a call from Lowe or offered him an exemption to coronavirus orders.
As of Monday morning, Garvin County Sheriff Jim Mullett said the Oklahoma attorney general had deemed Lowe's operation non-essential and Lowe closed his zoo.
This story was originally published by Darcy Spears on KTNV in Las Vegas.