Carole Baskin has a thing or two to say about all those cool cats and kittens that call the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park home. Shortly after news broke Wednesday that the zoo, made famous following the debut of Tiger King on Netflix, would be forced to close permanently, Baskin spoke out, voicing her concern for the big cats that live there.
In an emailed statement to Page Six, Baskin, Joe Exotic's long-time nemesis and opposer of the Oklahoma zoo, said that "closing the GW Zoo to the public, unfortunately, does nothing to relieve the animals of the serious mistreatment documented" that was documented in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) recent investigation into the facility. Their investigation had been prompted in June after PETA released images and a video showing the poor conditions the animals were living in. Several animals shown in the documents had wounds that were not treated, and others were suffering from flystrike, which PETA described as "a condition in which flies, usually drawn to uncleared animal waste, bite other animals and lay eggs on them and the hatched maggots eat away at their skin." An inspection carried out by the USDA later that month confirmed poor living conditions at the facility, noting that some animals had gone without necessary veterinary care.
The decision to close the zoo to the public, however, will not necessarily bring any improvement for the animals. In her statement, Baskin said, "now that USDA will no longer inspect the facility, the animals are at even greater risk."
According to the Wynnewood Zoo and Lowe, whose federal Animal Welfare Act exhibitor's license was suspended in the ruling, the animals on the 16.4-acre property "are now in private hands and will remain in private hands." Further details were not offered. KTUL ABC 8 reported that the property is now to be used exclusively as a private film set for Tiger King-related content.
The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park had initially been under the ownership of Exotic (real name Joseph Maldano-Passage). Exotic is currently serving a 22-year jail sentence after being convicted for his murder-for-hire plot targeting Carole Baskin. He was also found guilty for violating the Endangered Species Act and falsifying wildlife records. Prior to his conviction, he had handed over ownership to Lowe, accepting an offer to help keep the zoo afloat amid financial woes. In June, a judge granted ownership of the land to Baskin.