Zoo Formerly Owned By Joe Exotic Is Subject Of Animal Welfare Investigation
Police confirmed that Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma, USA, was being investigated by numerous agencies. Injured animals at the zoo have already been taken into veterinary care.
A statement from Garvin County Sheriff Jim Mullett read: "The Garvin County Sheriff's Office has received numerous calls regarding the Greater Wynnewood Zoo and the welfare of the animals.
"We have requested that the USDA, US Fish and Game and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife start their own investigation. Based on these complaints, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife has been to the park and has conducted their own investigation.
"The USDA has been to the park and is currently conducting an investigation as well. Animals that are injured are receiving veterinary care in isolation and are being monitored by USDA."
The zoo belonged to Exotic before he began a 22-year prison sentence, having been convicted in 2019 of attempting to hire a hitman to kill Big Cat Rescue CEO Carole Baskin - as well as a series of violations of the Endangered Species Act, including killing five tigers.
The zoo then moved into the hands of Jeff Lowe, however, a federal court ruling earlier this month judged that it should be taken under Baskin's control.
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The judgement was passed in relation to a 2016 lawsuit between Big Cat Rescue Corp. and Shirley Schreibvogel, the mother of Exotic (real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage). Baskin was awarded the property after Judge Palk ruled it was fraudulently transferred by Exotic to his mother to avoid paying her a settlement in a trademark infringement lawsuit.
The ruling states that Lowe must vacate the land within 120 days and remove all of the animals too.
It reads: "It is further ordered, to effectuate the equitable relief awarded in this case, that GWDG (Greater Wynnewood Development Group): (1) shall vacate the premises of the Zoo Land within 120 days of the date of service of this Order on GWDG, which vacation of premises shall also require removal of all zoo animals from the Zoo Land."
Baskin subsequently offered to help re-home the animals, however, Lowe said this would not be necessary.
In a statement, he said: "Although I am not personally named in the lawsuit, it appears that Carole Baskin and her desire to exact revenge against Joe Exotic trumps the livelihood of the families that came together to save her life.
"Without our efforts, it is well known that Carole would no longer be here. We anticipated Carole Baskin gaining title to the former park that once belonged to Joe Exotic many years ago.
"It is my understanding that she will also be taking the cages from the zoo, which thankfully means that the animals that she has will finally have the proper amount of space to move around."
Featured Image Credit: Netflix
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