Jeff Lowe is taking issue with PETA's Joe Exotic Halloween costume, but the animal rights organization is calling his claims "absurd." The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is currently selling a "Joe Exotic Tiger Killer Costume" for $159.99 following the success of the Emmy-nominated Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, but Lowe apparently thinks he is entitled to a portion of the profits.
According to a cease and desist letter obtained by TMZ from Lowe's lawyer, the current owner of The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma, claimed he owns the rights to "Joe Exotic" and "Tiger King," threatening a lawsuit if the costume is not discontinued or he isn't brought in for a licensing deal. PETA then fired back with its own letter, also obtained by TMZ, calling the cease and desist "absurd" and claiming that, even if Lowe does own the stage name of his former business partner Joseph Maldonado, the costume is a parody that doesn't violate trademark laws.
"We suggest Mr. Lowe focus instead on his serious legal problems in Nevada, Oklahoma and elsewhere, including the numerous recent federal Animal Welfare Act violations perpetrated against endangered big cats at his Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park," the organization wrote in its response.
The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park's recent surprise inspection by the United States Department of Agriculture did show some disturbing conditions at the Oklahoma Zoo, including numerous tiger corpses rotting in an open pit. The animals that were alive were not in good condition, according to the report, and included a lethargic lion cub suffering from severe flystrike and an untreated respiratory illness, malnourished bears, that were exhibiting behaviors symptomatic of captive psychosis and a pair of arthritic wolves that never received proper bedding or prescribed medication.
Bobbi Brink, the founder and director of Lions Tigers & Bears accredited animal sanctuary in Alpine, CA, condemned the conditions in which the animals were found. "Those who have paid to take a selfie with or pet a tiger cub have unknowingly contributed to animal abuse and exploitation at facilities like the G.W. Exotic Animal Park," Brink said. "It's cub petting that brings in money, and once they've outgrown their petting 'prime,' it's heartbreaking to read about how they are blatantly abandoned and neglected at facilities that preach conservation. If animals are not given proper veterinary care, it's fake conservation. The animals at G.W. Zoo are suffering from this exploitative business practice."