Tiger King Zoo is Thankfully Now Closed for Good

Published on August 20, 2020

Remember when Netflix’s Tiger King completely took over pop culture back in March? Although released only a few months later, the nonstop talk about Joe Exotic and the gang feels like forever ago. Now, we have a new update on the zoo.

Closed Down

As the end of the wildly popular Netflix doc depicted, Joe Exotic is in prison. The zoo itself became Jeff Lowe’s property. Recently, in a now deleted Facebook post, Lowe shared that The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, is no more:

“As of today, we have decided to close the old zoo effective immediately. [Due to] the permanent closure of the Wynnewood Zoo, I’m forfeiting my USDA exhibitors license…. 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 wrote. “In the state of Oklahoma, exotic animal ownership is perfectly legal. 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….

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. 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. As of today, we have decided to close the old zoo effective immediately.”

Tiger King Park 

Lowe is already planning on opening another park of his own. He wants the park to be a private film set to shoot content potentially for television and streaming services. Weeks ago he shared the news on Facebook, as well. The new park’s name? Tiger King Park. 

Complaints of Abuse

The Netflix doc conveyed very clearly the poor conditions the tigers were living in. It was saddening and infuriating. Back in June, Lowe faced accusations of animal neglect and abuse. Horrific photos of Jeff Lowe’s zoo made their way online. The tigers appeared cut up and hurting. An unknown source provided PETA with damning images and videos of the captive lions. The animals were experiencing severe flystrike, in which flies bite and lay eggs on animals. The result? Destroying an animal’s skin. Lowe claims he goes by the book in running his former Oklahoma-based zoo and that he was working on the flies, but the photos speak volumes. The only source that backs up Lowe’s claim is the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The department conducted a welfare check on the animals and, according to them, the animals were in good health. 

The Dark Side of Tiger King

Although a well-made, often fascinating, and weirdly entertaining docuseries, Tiger King felt wrong in many ways. Besides giving Joe Exotic a big platform to become famous based on bad deeds, it’s now given Lowe the resources he needs. As Lowe wrote, the show “provided us with an unfathomable source of income that will guarantee the long-term care of our animals and allow us to be very selective going forward.”

For a variety of reasons, morally, the show felt wrong. It felt wrong when everyone was joking about the content and its characters. Yes, it’s Coen-esque in many ways, which overshadowed the horrors on display for many viewers. Tiger King is no joke. Animal abuse is no joke, and yet a few months ago, mostly everyone appeared to be laughing. Is the Netflix hit still that funny to people?

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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