Zoo owned by 'Tiger King' Joe Exotic has been closed down for good

FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2013, file photo, Joseph Maldonado answers a question during an interview at the zoo he runs in Wynnewood, Okla. Federal prosecutors on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, announced that the zookeeper, also known as "Joe Exotic," and candidate for governor earlier this year, has been charged in a murder-for-hire scheme alleging he tried to hire someone to kill a Florida woman. Prosecutors allege Maldonado-Passage tried to hire two separate people to kill the woman, who wasn't harmed. Maldonado-Passage finished third in a three-way Libertarian primary in June. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Joe Exotic (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma, made famous in the Netflix documentary series Tiger King, has been closed for good.

Formerly owned by the series' subject Joe Exotic, the park has been closed “effective immediately”, according to current owner Jeff Lowe, who also appears in the series.

In a message posted to Facebook, Lowe called out the United States Department of Agriculture for “folding to pressure” from animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta).

Read more: Nicolas Cage set to play Joe Exotic

“The Tiger King phenomenon has definitely changed our lives in many ways,” he said in a statement. “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.

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Santa Rose County Jail in Milton, Fla., shows Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic. A federal judge in Oklahoma has awarded ownership of the zoo made famous in Netflix's “Tiger King” docuseries to Joe Exotic's rival, Carole Baskin. In a ruling Monday, June 1, 2020, U.S. District Judge Scott Palk granted control of the Oklahoma zoo that was previously run by Joseph Maldonado-Passage — also known as Joe Exotic — to Big Cat Rescue Corp. (Santa Rosa County Jail via AP, File)
Joe Exotic (Santa Rosa County Jail via AP)

“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.”

Lowe said he plans to open a new park that will be “a private film set for Tiger King related television content for cable and streaming services”.

In 2019, Exotic, real name Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison for animal abuse and for ordering a hit on animal rights activist and rival big cat sanctuary owner Carole Baskin.

He handed the park over to business partner Lowe, a Las Vegas playboy, for legal reasons, but in a remarkable twist to the story, a federal judge ordered that the park be handed to Baskin as part of a £800,000 trademark infringement dispute in June this year.

It emerged in May that Nicolas Cage has been lined up to play Exotic in a mini-series of the Tiger King story.