The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, which was previously owned by Joe Exotic and prominently featured in the hit Netflix docuseries Tiger King, has been closed permanently after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suspended current owner Jeff Lowe’s federal Animal Welfare Act exhibitor's license. Lowe, who came into possession of the Oklahoma roadside zoo after Exotic encountered financial woes, is now prohibited from exhibiting big cats and other USDA-regulated species effective immediately.
In a Facebook post shared Tuesday night, Lowe wrote that due to "the permanent closure of the Wynnewood Zoo, I’m forfeiting my USDA exhibitors license." He also claimed that the agency "folded to the pressures of PETA" and has made "false accusations" against him. "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," he wrote.
The USDA's ruling came Monday, according to Newsweek, and came after the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and the USDA investigated the park in June. The investigation was prompted after PETA released photos and a video of the conditions animals at the park, including big cats, were living in. Those 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.
The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) had performed an unannounced inspection on June 22, during which they found numerous instances of animal neglect and abuse. A report from the agency explained that the park kept "injured and sickly animals in unsanitary and dangerous living conditions." The report also cited a 17-year-old male tigon (tiger and lion hybrid) who died of renal failure. That animal had not been given any veterinary care, and its body was reportedly left partially burned and rotting next to the body of another deceased tiger. A 16-week-old lion cub was also found to be "lethargic, depressed, and thin." That cub had rapid, shallow breathing and discharge accumulating around its eyes and nose. The report also noted the poor conditions of several other animals. At the time, the USDA demanded that Lowe seek immediate veterinary care for all of the animals.
Lowe came into possession of The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park after Exotic accepted his offer to help resolve the park’s financial woes. Exotic was later handed 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. In June, a federal judge granted Baskin ownership of the 16.4-acre property.
Lowe, meanwhile, was also scheduled to appear in Las Vegas Municipal Court Tuesday in relation to a 2017 citation for doing business without a license. That court hearing was postponed, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.