The popularity of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness isn't limited to Netflix. The seven-part series, which chronicles the rise and fall of Joseph "Joe Exotic" Maldonado-Passage and the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park rural Oklahoma, has made the zoo a real hot-spot for visitors. This is good for business, but is concerning in a time when social distancing practices are strongly encouraged at least through the month of April. CEO Jeff Lowe released a statement on the zoo's Facebook page laying out the situation on Sunday.
"After two of the busiest days this park has ever seen, we are going to step back tomorrow and confirm with the Governor that we are operating within the guidelines of the COVID-19 requirements," the post began. "We will not open at 9:00 tomorrow morning. We are a licensed agricultural entity, but the crowds have been huge since the Netflix show and we have difficulty in controlling that much traffic at one time. At one point today we had cars lined up 1/2 mile down the road. We want to accommodate everyone, it just might not be possible to do safely.
After adding that they'd be "conferencing" with Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt to discuss options for remaining open while practicing social distancing measures, they advised to "please check in with us before you travel all this way."
"We have been assured of our exemptions, now we just need to figure out the logistics of managing crowd sizes." As of Tuesday, the hours on both the website and the Facebook page are listed at 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., CST.
Lowe, who was once sued by Prince, has been quite outspoken since the Netflix limited series has taken off. In a now-deleted Facebook post to the zoo's page, he wrote that "they did a pretty good job."
"A little sensationalism here and there, but for the most part it was a decent Readers Digest version, telling the story of a sick, twisted animal abuser. Joe Exotic. When I agreed to be involved in this docuseries I was slightly concerned that my Sons Of Anarchy lifestyle might be too much for the average person to handle."
He went on to write that he "will always believe that our biggest contribution to the animal kingdom was helping the feds take down monsters like Joe Exotic and Tim Stark. No zoo we ever build will have the positive impact of taking out the nation's largest tiger cub traffickers."
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness is available to stream on Netflix.