How did Erik Cowie die? 'Tiger King' zookeeper, 53, found dead in NYC apartment
'Tiger King' star Erik Cowie, who was a zookeeper on the Netflix series, was found dead face down in a bed inside a residence in New York City on Friday, September 3 evening. He was 53 years old. It was immediately not clear what was Cowie doing in New York as he resides in Oklahoma. Reports cited that there was 'nothing suspicious about the death' and 'no drugs were found on the scene', however, a toxicology test is likely to be performed.
Erik Cowie, who made several appearances in Netflix's hit show, 'Tiger King' from last year as one of Joe Exotic's longtime animal caretakers, admitted to having a drinking problem in the past. Cowie previously said that he was "at the end of (his) rope" with his drinking problems before finding Joe Exotic's 'Tiger King'. Earlier this year, Cowie even got a DUI in Oklahoma after a car accident. Cowie pleaded guilty and was set to be sentenced later, but he never showed up for his hearing.
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Erik Cowie was one of Joe Exotic's longtime animal caretakers, having worked at his zoo for eight years. However, relations between Cowie and Exotic soured when the latter was arrested in June 2018 for hiring two different hitmen to kill animal rights activist, Carole Baskin and various counts of animal abuse.
Cowie testified against Exotic at trial and told the court he'd witnessed him order the executions of a number of zoo animals. Cowie said in an interview earlier this year that he witnessed Exotic kill over 100 tigers. "Joe only cared about them in a monetary way, " adding that one lion in particular lion hated Exotic so much it "would try to chew through the cage to get at him." "I learned a lot from Joe, mostly on not what to do,” Cowie added. Even though Cowie's testimony helped secure, Exotic's 22-year prison sentence, he stayed on at the zoo after Joe was incarcerated.