The exotic cat zoo formerly owned by Joe Exotic, and which featured in Netflix series Tiger King, is permanently closing down due to pressure from animal rights charity, Peta.
The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, which is now owned by Jeff Lowe, the former business partner of Joe Exotic who also starred in the hit docuseries, announced the news via a Facebook post.
The news comes after Carole Baskin (who also featured in Tiger King) won the rights to the zoo following a $1 million (£800,000) trademark dispute. A federal judge ordered the zoo be handed over to Baskin, which required the current operators to vacate the premises within 120 days.
Why did the zoo close?
The zoo’s Facebook post pointed the blame towards the animal rights charity Peta for the decision to close its doors, along with the Netflix docuseries.
The post read, "The Tiger King phenomenon has definitely changed our lives in many ways.
"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."
Jeff Lowe’s animal buying licence revoked
Brittany Peet, from the captive animal team at Peta, pushed the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to permanently revoke Jeff Lowe's licence to buy and sell animals.
Peet said in a statement, “Peta looks forward to seeing every one of the long-suffering animals at the GW Zoo be transferred to an appropriate facility where it won't take federal intervention for a sick cat to receive veterinary care.”
However, Jeff Lowe has claimed on Facebook that he personally chose to forfeit his United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) exhibitor's licence.
Lowe said, “I no longer want to exhibit animals to the public. We have been contemplating this for weeks.”
He added that, after "five consecutive perfect inspections," the USDA "folded to the pressures of Peta and continue to make 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,” Lowe said.
Nextflix docuseries an ‘unfathomable source of income’
While Lowe’s park may be closing down, the zoo owner has bragged that such a decision will not cause too great a financial impact for him or his family.
The Tiger King series became an international success and an online viral sensation at the start of lockdown, and Lowe has boasted that the show “has also provided [him] with an unfathomable source of income.”
He added that he is moving to a “new park” which will house a “private film set for Tiger King related television content for cable and streaming services.”