WYNNEWOOD, Okla. (KFOR) – The controversial Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, once owned by self-proclaimed “Tiger King” Joe Exotic, has closed to the public after the USDA suspended current zoo proprietor Jeff Lowe’s exhibitor license.
The USDA website shows Lowe’s exhibitor license was suspended Monday, Aug. 17.
Lowe posted a statement on the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park Facebook page Tuesday evening, announcing his license was suspended and he is closing the zoo.
He said the USDA suspended his license for 21 days over what he described as a “litany of falsehoods.” He also accused the USDA of folding to pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
“Rest assured that all the animals will continue to have excellent care, and consequently will no longer be subject to USDA inspections or PETA spies,” Lowe said. “Our new park will, at least for the foreseeable future, be a private film set for Tiger King-related television content for cable and streaming services.”
A district court in Indiana recently ordered Lowe to turn over veterinary records of lions that were allegedly not being treated properly at the zoo.
Garvin County Sheriff’s Office deputies and USDA officials began investigating the zoo after receiving a formal report that included photos showing a lion with its ears covered in flies and another with the tips of its ears covered in blood.
PETA officials said the photos showed the lions were suffering from flystrike — a condition where flies, usually drawn to uncleared animal waste, bite other animals and lay eggs on them, then the hatched maggots eat away at the skin.
Greater Wynnewood Exotic Park, also known as the G.W. Zoo, was formerly owned by Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who is famously known as Joe Exotic. Maldonado-Passage also gave himself the moniker “Tiger King.”
Maldonado-Passage is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for trying to hire someone to murder animal rights activist Carole Baskin, who owns Big Cat Animal Rescue.
Lowe took ownership of the G.W. Zoo from Maldonado-Passage, but a June 1 court decision granted Baskin ownership of the Garvin County land that the zoo is located on. Judge Scott Palk ordered the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park to vacate the property within 120 days and hand over control to Big Cat Rescue Corp.
Maldonado-Passage’s downfall, including the drama between him, Baskin and Lowe, was documented in the popular Netflix documentary “Tiger King.”
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