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Animal welfare investigation underway at zoo once owned by Joe Exotic from 'Tiger King'

Multiple state agencies are investigating animals' welfare at the Oklahoma-based wildlife attraction formally owned by Joe Exotic from Netflix's "Tiger King."
Credit: Netflix

GARVIN COUNTY, Okla. — An animal welfare investigation is underway by officials at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, the zoo featured in Netflix's docuseries "Tiger King," according to the Garvin County Sheriff's Office.

The Oklahoma-based wildlife attraction was formally owned by Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic.

The sheriff's office said in a statement that it received "numerous calls" about the zoo and its animals. It is conducting its own investigation, but it's also encouraging the United States Department of Agriculture, the US Fish and Game and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife to look into the situation.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and the USDA have been to the park to investigate, and said injured animals are currently "receiving veterinarian care in isolation and are being monitored by USDA."

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PETA, the animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said in a press release that photos and a video were released to them showing tigers at the zoo were suffering from "flystrike." This is a condition where "flies, usually drawn to uncleared animal waste, bite other animals and lay eggs on them and the hatched maggots eat away at their skin."

The photos and videos show one lion's ears raw and bloody and another lion's ears blanketed in flies. If the "flystrike" isn't treated immediately, the lions could be at risk of losing their ears, according to PETA.

“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,” said PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet in a press release. “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 park was recently under the control of Jeff Lowe, but at the beginning of June, animal activist Carole Baskin has been awarded control of a zoo property, according to multiple reports.

RELATED: Carole Baskin awarded Joe Exotic's former zoo in court ruling

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A federal judge awarded Baskin the 16-acre property, complete with portable buildings and vehicles after the judge ruled the property was fraudulently transferred by Exotic to his mother to avoid paying Baskin her settlement in a trademark infringement lawsuit.

Exotic is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence after he was found guilty of that murder-for-hire plot, and for killing tigers in his animal park. His legal team has launched a 1,350-mile bus tour to try and lobby President Donald Trump to issue a pardon for the "Tiger King" star.

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