‘Tiger King’s Erik Cowie’s cause of death released

Fans of the show “Tiger King” now know what killed zookeeper Erik Cowie.

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The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner announced Monday that acute and chronic alcohol use killed Cowie, Variety reported.

The manner of Cowie’s death was listed as natural, People magazine reported.

Cowie was found dead in an apartment in Brooklyn on Sept. 3, Deadline reported.

He was 52.

EMS responded to a 911 call of an unconscious male at the apartment where he was pronounced dead.

Cowie, who was a zookeeper at Joe Exotic’s G.W. Zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, had spoken about his struggles with alcohol. He had been charged with driving under the influence in May, Variety reported.

He worked there for five years, Deadline reported.

Cowie stayed at the zoo after its founder Exotic went to jail. Cowie had testified during Exotic’s trial that he had seen the owner have animals killed. Cowie also spoke about his regrets about working with Exotic in the show “The Tiger King and I.”

“A lot of times when we put cats down, 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 put it down and stuff,” Cowie said, according to Variety. “You know, those cats trusted me up until the end, and somehow, sometimes I swear they’re like, ‘Dude, you let me down’ kinda thing. I could see it in their face and their eyes.”

Cowie said he heard the shots that he said were fired by Exotic to make room for more tigers. Cowie testified he didn’t see Exotic pull the trigger, but “I knew what was going on,” Deadline reported.

Exotic was convicted of a murder-for-hire plot to kill rival Carole Baskin. He was sentenced in 2020 to 22 years in prison on those charges among others, including the killing of tigers, People magazine reported.

The case is in the process of resentencing after a court of appeals decision said the charges against Exotic should have been handled as one conviction, not two, and that he deserves a shorter sentence because of that, The Associated Press reported this summer.