Reptile dealer ‘Tiger King’ killed himself in front of his wife, police confirm

One of the tigers living at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park is pictured at the park in Wynnewood, Okla. in 2013. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

(WJW) — A reptile trader who made an appearance on the Netflix hit »tiger king” died by suicide.

The Oklahoma City Police Department confirmed that Jeff Johnson, 58, died Sept. 8 after an argument with his wife, People reported on Monday. According to police documents, Johnson committed suicide in front of his wife, People reports. Her children were also at home at the time.

Johnson appeared in the fourth episode of the first season of “Tiger King.”

Just five days before Johnson’s death, zookeeper ‘Tiger King’ Erik Cowie died at age 54. He was found face down in a New York residence. No foul play was suspected.

Cowie had remained at the Oklahoma Tiger Zoo even after its former owner, Joe Exotic, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was imprisoned. However, the space is now closed to the public. Cowie had admitted to having a drinking problem before appearing on the ‘Tiger King’ series.

Exotic was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison after being found guilty of trying to hire two different men to kill Florida animal rights activist Carole Baskin. He was recently transferred to a North Carolina medical facility for federal prisoners after being diagnosed with cancer, according to his attorney.

If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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