Current Owner of Tiger King Zoo Gets More Bad News

Jeff Lowe just saw his animal exhibitor license suspended by the USDA
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2020 8:04 AM CDT
Current Owner of Tiger King Zoo Gets More Bad News
This undated file photo shows Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, whose zoo is now run by Jeff Lowe.   (Santa Rosa County Jail via AP, File)

In June, a judge gave control of the Oklahoma zoo once run by "Joe Exotic" of Tiger King fame (real name: Joseph Maldonado-Passage), and now owned by Jeff Lowe, to the two men's nemesis, Carole Baskin. Now, more bad news for Lowe: The Department of Agriculture this week suspended his license to exhibit big cats or other USDA-regulated species at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Thackerville, or anywhere in the US. TMZ reports the suspension is for 21 days, due to recent agency inspections that showed neglect of some of the zoo's animals, including a weak-looking lion cub, two old wolves with body sores from bad sleeping conditions, and a pair of emaciated grizzly bears, per Newsweek. Investigators also said three dozen animals or so are missing and that the site's refrigerated truck was emitting an "odor of decaying flesh," Fox News notes.

Lowe tells a different story on what happened with the zoo, per KOCO. In a Tuesday Facebook post, Lowe says he made the decision a month ago to permanently close the zoo, which he'll soon have to hand over to Baskin, and that he contacted the USDA to hand over his license of his own volition. "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 writes, adding that "the very agency that has given my facility five consecutive perfect inspections, has now folded to the pressures of PETA and continue to make false accusations against me." Lowe adds that a new park is in the works, but for now during the pandemic, it's going to be a virtual experience only, serving as "a private film set for Tiger King related television content for cable and streaming services." (Read more Tiger King stories.)

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