Joe Exotic's former Oklahoma Zoo, the 16.4 acre Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, is under investigation by state authorities over the animals' welfare. On Thursday, the office of Garvin County Sheriff Jim Mullett announced that after receiving "numerous calls" about the property, which was featured on Netflix's Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness, the Garvin County Sheriff's Office had formally requested the USDA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife to investigate
According to the statement, both the ODW and the USDA have already been to the park. Details of those inspections were not provided, though the USDA is "currently conducting an investigation." Details of those inspections were not provided, though the statement said that injured animals are currently "receiving veterinarian care in isolation and are being monitored by USDA."
Earlier in the day, PETA had released photos and a video of the conditions animals at the park, including big cats, were living in. The three photos showed a "juvenile lion with open wounds to the ears," another juvenile lion with a "lesion on the right forelimb," and a third juvenile lion with its "ears covered in flies." The video, meanwhile, showed the big cats covered in flies due to the poor sanitation at the park.
In a statement, the organization explained that the animals were suffering from "flystrike," which they explained 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." PETA said that the condition is "painful" and cited veterinarians who had observed the photos and images who said that if not promptly and properly treated, the animals "risk losing their ears."
PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet slammed the USDA for their "inaction," which she said, "allowed 'Joe Exotic' to abuse and neglect animals for years, and so far, it's also failed to help the big cats held by Jeff Lowe." Peet called for the "despicable roadside zoo," which is currently operated by Lowe but was recently granted to Carole Baskin, to be shut down "pronto." PETA also asked for the USDA to "confiscate animals found to be suffering and to revoke Lowe's license to exhibit animals." They requested that the big cats be "transferred to an accredited sanctuary right away."
Lowe, who had threatened to leave the zoo a "complete hell" for Baskin, is currently a defendant in an ongoing PETA Endangered Species Act lawsuit, which challenged big-cat cub petting by his former business partner, Tim Stark.