WYNNEWOOD, Okla. (NewsNation) — The controversial Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, once owned by self-proclaimed ‘Tiger King’ Joe Exotic, is now closed after the USDA suspended current owner Jeff Lowe’s exhibitor license.
Lowe posted a statement on the G.W. Exotic Animal Park Facebook page, Tuesday evening, announcing that his license was suspended and that he is closing the zoo.
Lowe said the USDA suspended his license for 21 days over what he described as a “litany of falsehoods.” He also accused the USDA of folding to pressure from the animal rights organization PETA.
“Rest assured that all the animals will continue to have excellent care, and consequently will no longer be subject to USDA inspections or PETA spies,” Lowe said. “Our new park will, at least for the foreseeable future, be a private film set for Tiger King related television content for cable and streaming services.”
The USDA website shows that Lowe’s exhibitor license was suspended on Monday, Aug. 17.
“Jeff Lowe’s license has been suspended, a permanent revocation should be next, and his tiger-terrorizing days may soon be over,” said Brittany Peet, an attorney representing PETA. “PETA looks forward to seeing every one of the long-suffering animals at the G.W. Zoo be transferred to an appropriate facility where it won’t take federal intervention for a sick cat to receive veterinary care.”
USDA officials began investigating the zoo after receiving a report that included photos showing a lion with its ears covered in flies and another with the tips of its ears covered in blood.
PETA officials said the photos showed the lions were suffering from ‘flystrike’, a condition where flies bite animals and laid eggs on them. Then hatched maggots eat away at the skin.
Greater Wynnewood Exotic Park, also known as the G.W. Zoo, was formerly owned by Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, and was featured on the Netflix documentary series “Tiger King.”
Maldonado-Passage’s downfall, including the drama between Maldonado-Passage, Baskin and Lowe, was documented in the popular documentary.
Maldonado-Passage is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for trying to hire someone to murder animal rights activist Carole Baskin, who owns Big Cat Animal Rescue.
Lowe took ownership of the G.W. Zoo from Maldonado-Passage, but a June 1 court decision granted Baskin ownership of the Garvin County land that the zoo is located on. Judge Scott Palk ordered the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park to vacate the property within 120 days and hand over control to Big Cat Rescue Corp.
NewsNation affiliate KFOR contributed to this report.