PETA founder vows to close ‘Tiger King’ zoo after it reopens to the public

By | May 28, 2020

Ingrid Newkirk, the founder and president of PETA, is once again coming after the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park made famous by Netflix’s “Tiger King.”

The animal-rights organization made its feelings for Joe Exotic and his Oklahoma big-cat zoo known after the seven-part Netflix docuseries dropped.

“Maldonado-Passage — aka ‘Joe Maldonado,’ ‘Joe Schreibvogel,’ and, of course, ‘Joe Exotic’ — has been in PETA’s sights for years. He is a notorious animal abuser and was once the primary supplier of big-cat cubs used for the cruel cub-petting industry. The world will be a safer place for everyone with this man behind bars, where he can no longer harm animals or the animal advocates he threatened,” reads a blog post about the series, posted to PETA’s website in March.

Now, Newkirk, 70, is personally lobbying against the infamous zoo, now operated by Jeff Lowe and his wife Lauren, which has reopened after temporarily closing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk.
PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk.PETA/SWNS

“The problem at the moment is that Jeff Lowe has opened it back up to the public even during the pandemic,” Newkirk claimed in an interview, SWNS reports. “There are hundreds of people lined up to go inside and they are touching baby tiger and lion cubs.”

“We all know that big cats can get coronavirus, so it’s just a big mess — but we are intent on closing him down,” she continued.

“We’ve closed down several of Joe Exotic’s nefarious associates [and their] similar operations and we will close that one down, too,” she vowed.

Lowe, however, has defended his reopening of the park.

“There has not been a recorded death of any tiger, attributed to COVID-19,” he wrote in an email obtained by SWNS. “The United States Department of agriculture is an agency consisting of hundreds of licensed veterinarians, has not issued any warnings advising that public interactions with animals be discontinued.”

However, in a document from the USDA issued May 14, the government institution did recommend suspending hands-on interactions.

“Hands-on encounters with nondomestic cats should be suspended until it can be assured that members of the public do not pose any risk of infection to the animals,” according to guidance from the USDA.

Joe Exotic in "Tiger King."
Joe Exotic in “Tiger King.”Courtesy of NETFLIX

Lowe went on to accuse the PETA founder of being “scared by the success of ‘Tiger King,’” because people will “expose organizations like PETA for the hypocrisy they exhibit every day.”

Lowe brought up claims of PETA killing “between 80 and 90 percent” of animals in its care.

PETA addressed those claims in 2017, alleging the organization’s high euthanasia rate is due to the types of animals that are brought to its facilities.

“PETA operates a rescue team — which is on call 24/7 to offer relief to abused and suffering animals — as well as a single ‘shelter of last resort’ that takes in mostly aggressive, sick, elderly, injured, feral and otherwise unadoptable animals, many of whom have been turned away by shelters with limited-admission policies.

“To be able to offer refuge to every animal in need, open-admission shelters must euthanize unadopted and unadoptable animals. The alternative — turning them away — is cruel and leaves the animals in grave danger,” reads a statement provided by the organization to Fox News.

Living | New York Post