Much like the next person, I'm deeply invested in Netflix's Tiger King, which dropped March 20, a.k.a. just when I was running out of shows to binge during social isolation. (Netflix gods, I thank you.) The six-episode limited series follows the world of exotic animal trading in the U.S. and the key players involved. One such player is the bizarre Joe Exotic, formerly known as Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who runs a zoo in Oklahoma; also featured in the series is Joe's friend Jeff Lowe. While the limited series finished filming in 2019, Lowe has done a lot since then. Warning: Spoilers for the current season of Tiger King ahead.
Lowe owns the G.W. Zoo—but has renamed it.
At the end of the series, we learn that Exotic is in federal prison for 22 years on two counts of murder-for-hire as part of an attempt to murder animal rights activist Carole Baskin. He's also facing more than a dozen wildlife violations. Because he's behind bars, Jeff Lowe, Joe's friend, buys the zoo from him.
Cut to the present day. Lowe has renamed it Greater Wynnewood Animal Park. The park is still running today, and Lowe and his team have new plans that will distance themselves from Exotic. But things aren't going smoothly...
Lowe says he's planning to open a new zoo.
Yep, you read that correctly. Back in 2018, Lowe and his wife broke ground on a new project, the Oklahoma Zoo, according to Oklahoma's News 4. The plan is for a new location in Thackerville, Oklahoma to replace the empire Exotic built, which will move the company as far away from his image as possible. It's crazy—they seemed such good friends on the show.
"We think it's best to let this zoo die with Joe's conviction and not make the next generation of animals to live here forever suffer his outrageous behavior and reputation," Lowe wrote in a Facebook post. "There is SO MUCH MORE to be revealed about Joe and his crimes against animals, and we don't want to be associated with him any longer."
The new facility was supposed to open in the spring of 2019, but according to their website, it got delayed to sometime this summer. The place looks like a major upgrade, and is slated to feature new attractions, like hosting guests overnight.
...But it's not clear that that's going to happen.
According to Bustle, the original zoo is still open, despite social-distancing recommendations due to coronavirus. Meanwhile, producers of Tiger King are worried about Lowe: "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," said Eric Goode to Entertainment Weekly.
For now, it seems like everything that Lowe has been working on is at stake, even the animals. "I think that it's very sad what's happening to these animals," said Goode. "And it's anyone's guess as to what's going to happen to them. Some will be placed, but I would suspect a lot of them will die from starvation, and probably be put down."
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