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'Tiger King': Is Joe Exotic's Oklahoma Zoo Still Open?

Screengrab via YouTube

By now, most of America has watched the Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, which gives an inside look at the big cat breeding industry in the United States. More specifically, Joe Exotic, the quirky former owner of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma.

Joseph Maldonado-Passage was sentenced to 22 years in prison back in 2018 for hiring a hitman to take out the CEO of non-profit animal sanctuary Big Cat Rescue, Carole Baskin. The drama between the two zookeepers (as well as the mystery of what really happened to Baskin's husband) is central to the plot of the true-crime docuseries. But with Joe going to federal prison, what did that mean for the G.W. Zoo and its wild animals?

G.W. Zoo Is Still Operational

After Joe was busted for attempted murder-for-hire as well as violating the Endangered Species Act (he shot multiple tigers at his zoo), G.W. Zoo was taken over by Lauren and Jeff Lowe. They technically took it over in 2016 while Joe and Carole were in a major lawsuit. According to the zoo's website, it is the largest privately-owned exotic animal park in the country. They are accredited by the United States Zoological Association and currently house over 230 lions and tigers. But they are really trying to put the drama of Joe Exotic behind them.

"His name will not be mentioned," Lauren Lowe told KOCO. "He will have nothing to do with the new facility. Going to let this place in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, die with him."

Jeff Lowe's goal is to move all of the animals to the new "Oklahoma Zoo." The couple purchased 55 acres in Thackerville, Oklahoma, and are aiming to be open by summer. Hopefully, the loss of business due to COVID-19 won't affect their plans of getting the animals a better home.

The future of the Zoo

Show creator Eric Goode told Entertainment Weekly that he's worried about what the future holds.

"All I can tell you is that he is basically operating on fumes. No one is going now and there's no source of income, and that's been going on for a long time. It's not something that has just happened because of what's happening in the world today," Goode told EW.

"But I think that it's very sad what's happening to these animals. And it's anyone's guess as to what's going to happen to them."

 According to their "Tiger King" Instagram account associated with the zoo, they have opened back up and are currently welcoming visitors.

Who are the Lowes?

The Lowes met Joe Exotic in 2015 after coming to G.W. Zoo to purchase a tiger cub. They ended up staying in Oklahoma to help when Joe was drowning in legal bills before formally taking over everything, even paying off his debt. While there are plenty of conspiracy theories behind Joe giving over his zoo to the Lowes, it seems like the animals are at least in better hands than they were before.

According to the Denver Post, many of the tigers, as well as a few bears from the G.W. Zoo were sent to an animal sanctuary in Colorado. They claim that they are the true animal lovers who helped put Joe behind bars and that the animals in their zoo are now getting the treatment they deserve.

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'Tiger King': Is Joe Exotic's Oklahoma Zoo Still Open?