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Tiger King zoo closes permanently as Jeff Lowe accuses USDA of folding to pressure from ‘Peta spies’

Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park permanently shut its doors on Tuesday

Isobel Lewis
Wednesday 19 August 2020 12:24
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The private zoo once owned by Tiger King’s Joe Exotic has permanently closed with immediate effect.

The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma was the subject of Netflix’s popular documentary series, but was taken out of Exotic’s hands after he was sentenced to 22 years in prison for hiring a hitman to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin, as well as numerous animal abuse charges.

The attraction was being managed by Jeff Lowe in Exotic’s absence. In a statement posted on Facebook on Tuesday (18 August) evening, the reality star stated that the zoo had been forced to close its doors for good.

“The Tiger King phenomenon has definitely changed our lives in many ways,” the statement read. “It has brought us more attention than any human deserves, good and bad. It has, and probably will continue to make us a target of every nutjob and animal rights loon in the world, but we are prepared.

“It has also provided us with an unfathomable source of income. Income that will guarantee the long term care of our animals and allow us to be very selective going forward.”

Jeff Lowe alleged that the USDA and 'folded' to pressure from Peta

Lowe then explained that the zoo would be closed “effective immediately”, with the TV personality forfeiting his USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) exhibitors license.

He used the opportunity to take aim at animal rights charity Peta, claiming that the USDA had “folded to [their] pressures” despite having given the zoo “five consecutive perfect inspections”.

“In the state of Oklahoma, exotic animal ownership is perfectly legal,” Lowe continued. “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.”

With reports of a second season of Tiger King in the works, Lowe stated that the new park would be a private film set for “television content”.

In a statement shared with The Independent, Peta celebrated the news of the zoo's closure, with deputy general counsel for captive animal law enforcement Brittany Peet saying: “Jeff Lowe’s licence has been suspended, a permanent revocation should be next, and his tiger-terrorising days may soon be over.

A second season of ‘Tiger King’ is reportedly in the works

“Peta looks forward to seeing every one of the long-suffering animals at the GW Zoo be transferred to an appropriate facility where it won’t take federal intervention for a sick cat to receive veterinary care.”

In June, Exotic was given 120 days to hand over the zoo to rival Baskin to help satisfy a $1m (£755,000) judgement that Exotic was ordered to pay her for copyright infringement.

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