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Joe Exotic’s ‘Tiger King’ exotic animal park closed permanently

by Susan and Simon Veness

After a long legal battle, the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, featured in the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King,” is now closed for good.

tiger king
One of eleven rescued wolves in a transfer cage awaiting transportation to The Wild Animal Refuge in Colorado. Eleven wolves, three tigers, a grizzly bear and black bear are the last animals to be removed from the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma.

Three tigers, 11 wolves, a grizzly bear and a black bear, formerly owned by Joseph Maldonado-Passage (better known as “Joe Exotic”), have been moved to The Wild Animal Sanctuary wildlife refuge in Keenesburg, Colo. After full medical evaluations, they will be allowed to live out the remainder of their lives in natural surroundings, with plenty of room to roam.

The animals’ removal and the permanent closure of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma is the culmination of a years-long legal battle between the president of Florida’s Big Cat Rescue, Carole Baskin, and Jeff Lowe and Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who were former business partners.

Baskin had been awarded the park and property in a May court order, and Lowe subsequently forfeited his USDA exhibitor’s license. Maldonado-Passage (“Joe Exotic”) is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for his role in a murder-for-hire plot targeting Baskin. He and Baskin were made infamous in the Netflix show, “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”

Staff members from The Wild Animal Sanctuary worked in cooperation with Big Cat Rescue and the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office to rescue and rehome the animals. The 10,000-acre sanctuary has been in operation since 1980, and focuses on the rescue and rehabilitation of abused, abandoned, and confiscated carnivores, often acting as a last-chance refuge for captive animals.

Education is also a priority for the non-profit facility, where visitors can observe tigers, bears, wolves, African lion prides, and other large carnivores from a 1.5-mile-long elevated walkway that passes several natural habitats. Adult admission is $30, children ages 3-12 are $15, 2 and under are free. An “animal care donation” of visitors’ choosing is also requested.

For more information visit WildAnimalSanctuary.org.

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