The controversial zoo portrayed in Netflix’s “Tiger King” is going to shut its doors
Believe it or not, Netflix’s unexpected quarantine hit Tiger King came into our lives nearly half a year ago, right as the coronavirus pandemic had us all indoors and eager for some bizarre escapist entertainment. It certainly delivered with the drama centering around big cat enthusiast and, um, zookeeper Joe Exotic. He once owned the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, which more recently was owned by Jeff Lowe, who also appeared on the show. Now, that zoo is closing after the USDA suspended Lowe’s exhibitor license.
In keeping with the true Tiger King vibe of tea-spillage and lunacy, Lowe had plenty to say in a now-deleted Facebook post, according to PEOPLE. “The Tiger King phenomenon has definitely changed our lives in many ways,” Lowe said. “It has brought us more attention than any human deserves, good and bad. It has, and probably will continue to make us a target of every nutjob and animal rights loon in the World, but we are prepared.”
He added, “It has also provided us with an unfathomable source of income. Income that will guarantee the long term care of our animals and allow us to be very selective going forward.”
Lowe claims that he voluntarily forfeited his USDA license because of the closure, but a report from the agency notes that Lowe’s license was suspended Monday after a July inspection found multiple violations, some being repeat infractions. Though the inspection uncovered disturbing evidence of food for the animals not being properly stored due to a broken refrigerator, Lowe maintains that everything is on the up and up. “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,” he said.
“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 continued. Lowe maintained in a later post that included screenshots of texts backing his claim that the forfeiture was his decision. “Doesn’t this look like a voluntary forfeiture? I no longer want to exhibit animals to the public. We have been contemplating this for weeks. I will still allow my lawyers to prove the USDA is dead wrong. And BTW, the USDA didn’t take my license. They issued a 21 days suspension. Day 22, I could open right back up if I wanted. I don’t want to.”
Lowe says the animals are “in private hands and will remain in private hands.”
You may recall that a few months ago, a court ordered Lowe to turn park ownership over to Carole Baskin, big cat fan, Joe Exotic rival, and all-around intriguing character from the show. She offered to use her Big Cat Rescue to help rehome the animals, but Lowe turned her down saying that the cats would all come to his new Tiger King Park, set to open in Thackerville, Oklahoma, next month. He plans to film a new reality series at that park with his wife Lauren. He told PEOPLE earlier this summer that, “It’ll be our narrative on the Tiger King with evidence to support our sides of the stories. And it will be about the transfer of all these beautiful animals from Joe’s facility to the new facility.”
For his part, Joe is serving out a 22-year prison sentence for hiring someone to kill Baskin and for 17 federal charges of animal abuse. However entertaining Lowe’s upcoming show might be, nothing will ever touch the King.