Erik — who had since been living out of the public eye following the shutdown of Joe Exotic’s (real name: Joseph Maldonado-Passage) zoo, Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park — was found dead in New York City.
Tiger King fans have had one burning question in mind: What was Erik Cowie’s cause of death? Keep reading to get the full scoop.
What was Erik Cowie’s cause of death?
The New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner told Fox News on Oct. 18, 2021, that Erik died due to "acute and chronic alcohol use."
When TMZ reported on Erik's death in September 2021, sources said that there was nothing suspicious about Erik’s death. Investigators shared with the outlet that a large bottle of vodka was found at the scene.
Erik, who reportedly lived and worked in Oklahoma, was said to be visiting a friend in New York.
Erik had been a hot topic in the headlines for various comments he made about his former boss Joe Exotic. Erik even took the stand during Joe's trial to testify against him. Joe was on trial for a murder-for-hire plot as well as wildlife charges.
Oklahoma News 4 shared in March 2019 that Erik testified that he seen the zoo owner shoot and kill old tigers to free up cage space for new animals.
“I knew what was going on. I’m [not] stupid,” Erik told reporters, per the outlet. “I knew cats were getting shot.”
Erik continued, "We needed three cages. He wiped out five cats. He came up a 4-10 in his hand and I knew he just shot Cuddles. I heard it, and he comes up the hill and goes … 'If I knew it was going to be this easy to just walk right up the cage, I was just going to kill them all.'”
Joe Exotic claimed that he was "not shocked" to learn about Erik Cowie’s passing.
It’s no surprise that there was some bad blood between Joe Exotic and Erik Cowie. After all, Erik was one of many people who helped authorities convict Joe.
After news of Erik’s passing made its rounds, Joe wasted no time sharing his thoughts.
“Erik Cowie got what he deserved,” Joe told the Daily Mail in September 2021. “Never wish evil upon anyone else. God is watching.”
Joe alleged that Erik had a history of suffering from alcohol abuse and had undergone treatment.
“So am I shocked he is gone? No, not a bit," Joe told the outlet. “I put him through rehab in Ardmore, Oklahoma, and still [gave] him a home and a job. He had a horrible disease of alcohol.'”
Joe went on to share that he’s sad that Erik passed away, but that he felt his actions worked against him.
“'I'm sad he is gone, but the last words he spoke about me backfired,” Joe added.
In the wake of Erik's death, friends and fans took to social media to mourn his passing.
"You are gone too soon ... We all miss you so much," tweeted one person.
"Coolest one on the farm," another tweeted.
We would like to take a moment to send our deepest condolences to the friends and loved ones of Erik Cowie.