Jeff Lowe appears in “Tiger King.” (Photo: Netflix)
Jeff Lowe, owner of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park (formerly the G.W. Exotic Animal Park), announced the closure in a lengty, since-deleted Facebook post that cited the success of “Tiger King.”
“The Tiger King phenomenon has definitely changed our lives in many ways. 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,” Lowe wrote on the roadside zoo’s Facebook page. “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.
“As of today, we have decided to close the old zoo effective immediately.”
Joe Schreibvogel, aka Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, aka Joe Exotic, at GW Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Okla., on Feb. 28, 2013. (Photo: STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN)
Lowe also wrote on Facebook that he’s forfeiting his Department of Agriculture exhibitors license, while noting that the USDA has suspended it.
“The very agency that has given my facility five consecutive perfect inspections, has now folded to the pressures of PETA and continue to make false accusations against me,” he said. “Suspiciously, less than 24 hours after I contacted the USDA to voluntarily forfeit my license, they notify me that they are suspending my license for 21 days for a litany of falsehoods.
“In the State of Oklahoma, exotic animal ownership is perfectly legal.”
In a news release, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the suspension means that, effective immediately, Lowe cannot exhibit big cats, bears, primates or other USDA-regulated species at the Wynnewood or any other property, including at his reportedly forthcoming new roadside zoo in Thackerville.
Joe Exotic appears in “Tiger King.” (Photo: NETFLIX)
According to PETA, the USDA in June halted its inspection of the facility and ordered Lowe to seek immediate veterinary care for a juvenile lion named Nala, who was lying in mud, lethargic, depressed and thin.
“Jeff Lowe’s license has been suspended, a permanent revocation should be next, and his tiger-terrorizing days may soon be over,” PETA said in a statement. “PETA looks forward to seeing every one of the long-suffering animals at the G.W. Zoo be transferred to an appropriate facility where it won’t take federal intervention for a sick cat to receive veterinary care.”
In his post, Lowe said his new animal park will be used as a private film set for the creation of “Tiger King”-related content.
“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,” he added.
“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.
Joe Exotic in a scene from Netflix original “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” (Photo: The Motley Fool)
“This was in fact a decision that we made more than a month ago and was the huge news that we spoke about on Facebook a couple weeks ago.”
Netflix’s smash documentary series “Tiger King” chronicles the strange life and murder-for-hire conviction of former Oklahoma zoo operator, big-cat owner and political hopeful Joe Exotic.
Joe Exotic – whose real name is Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, but he is also known as Joe Schreibvogel – was sentenced earlier this year to 22 years in federal prison. He was convicted last year of twice hiring someone to kill big cat enthusiast Carole Baskin, a Florida animal sanctuary operator whose nonprofit organization successfully sued him for more than $1 million for trademark infringement and other civil wrongs.
The docuseries features a number of colorful characters involved in Joe Exotic’s life or in the big cat business, including Lowe, the businessman and hard-partying swinger who promises to financially bail out Joe Exotic and his Wynnewood zoo, but then becomes Joe’s second most-hated rival after Baskin.
Carole Baskin, the founder of Big Cat Rescue, is featured in the docu-series “Tiger King.” She was married to Don Lewis, a man who went missing in 1997. (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)
In a June ruling, U.S. District Judge Scott Palk granted control of the zoo that was previously run by Joe Exotic to Big Cat Rescue Corp., the Florida group founded by Baskin.
“Tiger King” has already spun off a veritable menagerie of follow-up programming on Netflix, Fox, Investigation Discovery and more – with more on the way.
Universal Content Productions announced in November a partnership to adapt Wondery’s podcast about Joe Exotic for television. Emmy-winning “Saturday Night Live” standout Kate McKinnon will star and executive produce.
Oscar winner Nicolas Cage has been tapped to play Joe Exotic in an eight-episode scripted series from CBS Television Studios and Imagine Television.
Joe Exotic had hundreds of tigers in the Netflix ‘Tiger King’ documentary. The Wild Animal Sanctuary saved 39 of them.
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