HomeEntertainment‘Tiger King’ Star Jeff Johnson Dies at 58

‘Tiger King’ Star Jeff Johnson Dies at 58

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo credit: Anupam Mukherjee / 500px via Getty Images)

One more member of the Tiger King cast has passed away. Jeff Johnson, who made a brief but impactful appearance on the hit docudrama series died in September. However, the wider world only recently learned of his tragic demise. Johnson’s death came mere days after authorities found Tiger King star and head zookeeper Erik Cowie dead in his New York apartment.

TMZ obtained a report from the Oklahoma City Police Department that detailed Jeff Johnson’s death. According to that report, Johnson and his wife were arguing in the garage of their Oklahoma home on September 8th. During the argument, Johnson drew a semiautomatic handgun, pressed it to his head, and pulled the trigger. His wife immediately called 911 and when first responders arrived Johnson still had a weak pulse. As a result, they rushed him to the nearest hospital.  However, medical professionals pronounced him dead when he arrived. The couple’s children were inside the house when Jeff took his own life.

Jeff Johnson appeared in a single episode of Tiger King, “Playing with Fire” wherein he explained the feud between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin. Additionally, Johnson and Exotic were friends at one point. However, when Jeff Lowe entered the picture, Johnson stepped away from their friendship. In fact, TMZ reports that the former reptile dealer bashed both Joe Exotic and the Lowes at every opportunity.

Jeff Johnson: One of Many Tiger King Tragedies

One could almost believe that Tiger King is cursed. Several members of the cast have either passed away or faced other dire hardships after the show aired. Of course, Joe Exotic is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence in connection to the insanity we witnessed in the series. Additionally, he’s doing that time while battling prostate cancer.

Then, there is Erik Cowie, Exotic’s head zookeeper. The blond man who looked like a chill California surfer truly loved his work. However, in early September of this year, days before Jeff Johnson committed suicide, Cowie died due to complications of severe chronic alcohol abuse.

However, the tragedies didn’t wait until after the show aired. Many tragic events took place before and during the original show’s run. For instance, Joe Exotic’s second husband, Travis Maldonado accidentally killed himself during the filming of the show. He was trying to prove to Exotic’s campaign manager that his Glock would not fire without the magazine inserted. In doing so, he placed the gun to his temple and squeezed the trigger. He didn’t live long enough to realize his mistake.

Additionally, Saff was mauled by a tiger and lost his arm before the show began filming. He spoke about the moment that the massive cat took his arm during some interview segments in Tiger King.

We can only hope that Jeff Johnson’s suicide is the final tragic event to come from the Tiger King world.