Erik Cowie, the zookeeper that rose to prominence in the Netflix documentary series Tiger King, has died. He was 52.
Erik Cowie was reportedly found “face down in a bedroom of a residence” in a Brooklyn apartment last Friday. NBC New York report that Cowie was found unconscious when first responders arrived. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The New York City Police Department confirmed aligning details of a 52-year-old man’s death; however it did not release the deceased’s name pending family notification.
According to TMZ, sources have said that Cowie’s death does not appear to be suspicious. No drugs were found at the scene, but a toxicology test is expected to be performed.
Tiger King was a staple fixture in pandemic viewing early last year. The seven-part documentary series centers on a battle between zookeeper Joe Exotic, and Carole Baskin, animal rights activist and proprietor of Big Cat Rescue, who campaigns for the closure of Exotic’s G.W. Zoo.
In the series’ final episode, Exotic was sentenced to twenty-two years on charges of animal abuse and the attempted murder-for-hire of Baskin. Cowie testified against Joe Exotic during his 2019 trial, where he alleged Exotic shot five tigers to make space for more tigers. Cowie only heard the shots and did not witness Exotic kill the animals but he claimed, “I knew what was going on.”