Tiger King Zookeeper Erik Cowie's Cause of Death Revealed

A month after the death of 52-year-old Erik Cowie, who rose to fame in Netflix's Tiger King series, a medical examiner has ruled on the cause and manner of his sudden passing.

By Samantha Schnurr Oct 19, 2021 4:51 PMTags
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New details have emerged about Erik Cowie's passing, one month after his untimely death.

A medical examiner ruled the 52-year-old zookeeper, who appeared in Netflix's viral hit, Tiger King, passed away from acute and chronic alcohol use, Julie Bolcer of the NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner confirmed to E! News. The manner of death was found to be natural. 

Authorities previously confirmed to E! News that police found a 52-year-old unconscious male unconscious inside a New York bedroom on Sept. 3 after responding to a 911 call. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Citing law enforcement sources, TMZ reported Erik was found dead at an apartment of a friend he was visiting. 

During his time as an employee at the G.W. Zoo, founded and formerly owned by Joe Exotic in Oklahoma, Erik worked as head keeper. 

"I'm kind of embarrassed to say it, but when I got here, I was on kind of the end of my ropes," Erik said on the Netflix series about working at zoo. "I found this place on Craigslist and I was like, 'Man! I've never done this s--t before. What the f--k? Let's go!'"

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"And now look at me," the head keeper said. "I'm doing tiger shows."


Erik later testified during Joe's 2019 trial, in which the now-imprisoned zoo owner faced murder-for-hire and wildlife charges, and confirmed he heard gunshots around the time it was alleged Joe shot five tigers. 

"I knew what was going on. I'm [not] stupid," Cowie told reporters at the time. "I knew cats were getting shot."

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