The cause of death of Erik Cowie, the zookeeper that rose to prominence in the Netflix documentary series Tiger King, has been confirmed.

Erik Cowie was found lying face down in a bed at his friend’s Brooklyn apartment on September 3rd. The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner confirmed that Cowie’s manner of death was natural, and a result of “acute and chronic alcohol use.”

Cowie was arrested for DUI after a car accident in Oklahoma in May. He pleaded guilty and failed to show up for a court sentencing.

Tiger King was a staple fixture in the early days of the pandemic 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, Cowie revealed that he found employment at Joe Exotic’s G.W. Zoo. via a Craiglist advertisement.

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.”

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