The Oklahoma zoo featured in Netflix’s Tiger King documentary has closed after federal authorities investigated it for alleged maltreatment of animals and suspended its license.
The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park closed to the public after the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday suspended the exhibitor license for owner Jeff Lowe for 21 days.
The zoo, previously run by Joseph Maldonado-Passage — also known as Joe Exotic — became famous after being featured in Netflix’s Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.
The Garvin County Sheriff’s Office and USDA investigated the zoo after receiving a formal report that documented photos showing a lion with its ears covered in flies and another with the tips of its ears covered in blood.
But Lowe said in a statement Tuesday that his license was suspended over a “litany of falsehoods.” He said he plans to open a new park for private filming for television and streaming services, KFOR-TV reported.
“Rest assured that all the animals will continue to have excellent care,” Lowe said.
Officials at the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, referred to as PETA, say the photos included in the report show lions suffering from flystrike. In this condition, flies are usually attracted to uncleared animal waste, bite other animals and lay eggs on them, resulting in hatched maggots eating the skin.
“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,” said Brittany Peet, PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement.
An Indiana district court recently ordered Lowe to provide veterinary records for the lions allegedly not being treated appropriately.