The zoo formerly owned by Joe Exotic and featured in the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King” is being probed after photos of neglected and injured animals allegedly surfaced.
PETA says it got ahold of photos and video footage of the animals at G.W. Zoo, currently operated by Jeff Lowe in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, prompting several requests to the US Department of Agriculture to launch an investigation, according to a release.
They said juvenile lions were suffering from “flystrike, a condition in which flies, usually drawn to uncleared animal waste, bite other animals and lay eggs on them.” The hatched maggots then eat their skin and destroy their ears. Flystrike is painful to animals and typically occurs at facilities with poor sanitation.
Garvin County Sheriff Jim Mullett said the potential situation was brought to his attention after PETA placed a full-page ad in the Wynnewood Gazette.
The Garvin County Sheriff’s Department, the United States Department of Agriculture, US Fish and Game and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife currently have an investigation underway, according to a release from the Garvin County Sheriff’s Department.
One image obtained by PETA shows one of the lion’s ears appearing raw and bloody, with damaged tips, according to the release. Another photo shows a lion’s ears covered in flies.
PETA is asking the USDA to confiscate suffering animals and revoke Lowe’s license. They have filed an emergency motion with the court to have the lions transferred.
“The USDA’s inaction allowed ‘Joe Exotic’ to abuse and neglect animals for years, and so far, it’s also failed to help the big cats held by Jeff Lowe,” says PETA Foundation deputy general counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “In the wake of ‘Tiger King,’ the public eye is on the USDA to do its job and shut Lowe and his despicable roadside zoo down pronto.”
The injured animals are in isolation receiving veterinarian care and are being monitored by the USDA, says the Garvin County Sheriff’s Department.
Lowe has recently been sued by the state of Oklahoma for at least $50,000 in back sales taxes.
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