According to a coroner’s report, alcohol abuse plagued “Tiger King” star Erik Cowie in life, leading to the longtime animal caretaker’s death.
According to the NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner, Cowie died a natural death due to acute and chronic alcohol use.
TMZ reported that Cowie was unconscious with a large bottle of vodka in his New York City friend’s apartment last month.
According to Variety, the 52-year-old “Tiger King” star was “found dead by police responding to a 911 call of an unconscious male.” EMS officials pronounced Cowie dead at a 21 East 55th Street apartment.
Cowie was a zookeeper at Exotic’s G.W. Zoo in Wynnewood, Okla. He was a supporting cast member on Netflix’s hit docuseries “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.” The show had six primetime Emmy nominations.
Earlier this year, Oklahoma police busted the man for DUI following a court accident. He entered a guilty plea but didn’t show. A judge issued an arrest warrant for the “Tiger King” zookeeper.
The entertaining Cowie made several appearances on the hit show. He was one of Joe Exotic’s longtime animal caretakers and dubbed the head keeper of his tigers.
Reportedly, a desperate Cowie ended up with Joe Exotic and told him about a one-time drinking problem. Throughout the show, the man was candid about his struggles with drinking.
After “Tiger King” Joe Exotic went to prison, Cowie stayed to take care of the zoo’s animals.
New Zoo owners Jeff and Lauren Lowe tried to take care of Cowie. At one point, they helped the man get a dental makeover. TMZ reported on the event, showing Cowie’s new teeth and how genuinely happy the man was over his improved appearance.
Cowie Changed His Tune
Variety reported that Cowie, however, took a different tune when it came to his old boss after Exotic landed in jail. His testimony, along with others, put Joe Exotic in prison.
The court system found the “Tiger King” guilty of conspiracy to kill animal rights activist and rival Carole Baskin. He is serving a 22-year prison term and sought a pardon from former President Donald Trump at one point.
“A lot of times when we put cats down,” Cowie said, “(and) they used me because just by my appearance or my voice, I could get a cat up the side of a cage, where we can dart it and tranquilize it so they could be put down and stuff,” he said.
The “Tiger King” animal caretaker said the big cats “trusted me up until the end.” He said he felt like the animals looked at him and felt let down. He said he saw it in their faces and eyes.
64 million households watched the show globally in its first month on the streaming service.