Erik Cowie’s remains will not be claimed by zoo owner Jeff Lowe after an anonymous family member claimed the remains for themself. The fan-favorite zookeeper on Tiger King died of unknown causes earlier this month and Lowe promised to give him a proper memorial service at his Oklahoma zoo.
Instead, the unknown relative received the remains, according to TMZ, though it’s unclear whether Cowie will get a public memorial as was previously planned. The anonymous person, who claimed to be Cowie’s relative, got the remains from the medical examiner’s office. Jeff Lowe and his wife, Lauren, were planning to claim Erik Cowie’s remains for themselves to do a proper memorial service at their zoo in Thackerville, Ok.
It’s not clear who picked up the zookeeper’s remains. The relative remained anonymous, though it was previously thought that Erik Cowie had no remaining relatives left. That is why Jeff Lowe expected that he’d get to claim the remains, given New York law. The law states that close friends can claim remains if no family members come forward.
Recently, Lowe explained that he heard that Cowie had two children, but he didn’t expect either to claim the remains because they were estranged. TMZ received confirmation from the NYC Medical Examiner’s Officer that a family member did claim the remains, though their identity was hidden.
Last week, Jeff Lowe told reporters that he wanted to spread Erik Cowie’s ashes during a memorial service at his zoo. He and his wife were also considering streaming the memorial on Facebook so Cowie’s friends and fans could watch the ceremony. There was also a plan to spread Cowie’s ashes alongside his favorite cat, who died last year. Cowie had a special bond with Django, a Liger from that same zoo.
Erik Cowie was found dead two weeks ago in a New York City apartment. The 53-year-old Tiger King zookeeper was visiting a friend in the Big Apple when his body was found. A cause of death has yet to be released but investigators suspect it was alcohol-related. No drugs were found on the scene, however, authorities did find a large bottle of vodka.
“EMS was on scene and pronounced the male deceased. The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death,” the authorities said at the time. Erik Cowie was an animal caretaker at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. He was a prevalent character on the Netflix documentary Tiger King and was one of those who testified against Joe Exotic.
Joe Exotic is serving 22 years in a Texas prison after he was found guilty of a failed murder-for-hire plot. The zoo owner allegedly hired someone to kill his rival, Carole Baskin. According to the zookeeper, Exotic also mistreated animals and even killed older cats in order to make room for younger Tigers.
After Cowie’s death, Joe Exotic told reporters that he “got what he deserved,” though he said not to “wish evil upon anyone else” because “God is watching.”
He continued, however, explaining that he wasn’t shocked by the news. “So am I shocked he is gone? No, not a bit. I put him through rehab in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and still [gave] him a home and a job,” Exotic explained. According to the zookeeper, he last spoke to Cowie when he fired the zookeeper for neglecting to show up for a job.
“The next time I saw him was at my trial when he was [sitting] up there lying his ass off because he needed to kiss Jeff’s ass to stay at my zoo and to be the big cat hero on Netflix,” Exotic continued.
According to reports, Cowie made a statement regarding Joe Exotic’s conviction and subsequent sentencing. “Twenty-two years doing federal time – that guy’s gonna die in there. Good riddance,” Cowie said of his former boss.
“The last words he spoke about me backfired,” Exotic said earlier this month. The jailed zookeeper also said that he “can prove Erik perjured himself … The government, Carole Baskin, and a few others should be ashamed that they put this all in motion to fabricate this whole thing to steal my zoo and shut me up.”
“The truth is coming,” Exotic cryptically claimed. “The world will hate the America[n] Department of Justice.”