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Tiger King star and zookeeper Erik Cowie found dead at 53

Erik Cowie, who starred in the hit Netflix documentary Tiger King, has been found dead in a bedroom in New York City.

Erik Cowie was famously known as Joe Exotic’s zookeeper in the documentary, which became a cult hit last year.

In fact, it was only a few weeks ago that we were talking about this show, with Twin Peaks star Kyle MacLachlan set to appear in a scripted reboot of series.

Erik Cowie
Erik Cowie (left) and Joe Exotic (right)
Image: Metro UK

Cowie’s body was discovered “face down in a bedroom of a residence” in New York City on September 3.

It is unclear why the zookeeper was in New York, despite residing in Oklahoma – some 1,500 miles away.

The circumstances surrounding his death are also unclear, however fans have speculated that Cowie’s crooked teeth derived from meth use.

Despite the speculations, no drugs were found at the scene.

Cowie previously denied rumours of drug use, and at one point claimed his bad teeth were simply due to old age.

However, the zookeeper has admitted to having a drinking problem in the past, and has said in interviews that he was “at the end of his rope” with his alcoholism before meeting Joe.

A toxicology report is expected in the coming weeks.

Unsurprisingly, Cowie had a somewhat troubled relationship with the erratic Joe Exotic. Although he was the long-time caretaker of Joe’s many animals, he found himself testifying against Joe at one point for allegedly abusing and killing some of his beloved creatures – yikes!

Joe was eventually sent to jail, aged 58, leaving Cowie behind to take care of his animals at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.

Joe is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for allegedly attempting to hire two hit men to kill his business rival Carole Baskin. In fact, it is Carole’s husband, Howard, who Kyle MacLachlan will be portraying in the upcoming series.