One of the biggest TV events of this year was Netflix’s true-crime documentary series Tiger King.
But months after its debut, the story has taken another twist—one that will make animal rights groups happy.
Viewers were hooked on the crazy-yet-true saga of eccentric big cat zoo owner Joe Exotic and his feud with sanctuary owner Carole Baskin, which escalated to a murder-for-hire plot.
But besides just being addictive television, Tiger King shed light on the poor treatment these animals were kept in.
The big cats were bred in captivity, fed expired meat from Walmart, forced to partake in photoshoots with guests as cubs and are kept in tight cages.
And in addition to his murder-for-hire plot, Joe Exotic was charged with animal cruelty, including the killing of five of his tigers.
While Joe Exotic is currently serving his sentence in prison, his zoo—and his legacy of breeding big cats in captivity—has continued.
Ownership of Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, the zoo seen in Tiger King, went to Jeff Lowe, another prominent figure on the show.
And thanks to the infamy of the series, the park was wildly popular when it reopened, with tourists flocking to see it.
But allegations of mistreatment continued: petitions called for GW Zoo to be shut down after an outbreak of flystrike.
Another blow came when a federal judge ordered the zoo’s land be handed over to Carole Baskin as part of a legal settlement.
But now, in the latest twist, the GW Zoo has closed its doors for good.
In a Facebook post, Lowe announced that he will be forfeiting his USDA exhibitors license: “As of today, we have decided to close the old zoo effective immediately,” he wrote.
The USDA had suspended Lowe’s license—although, in a move that won’t surprise Tiger King viewers, he frames it as an unfair conspiracy in a long-fought battle with PETA, alleging the agency “folded to the pressures of PETA and continue to make false accusations against me.”
“Suspiciously, less than 24 hours after I contacted the USDA to voluntarily forfeit my license, they notify me that they are suspending my license for 21 days for a litany of falsehoods,” he wrote.
A second property planned by Lowe, called Tiger King Park, will continue to operate but as a “private film set for Tiger King related television content for cable and streaming services” instead of a public zoo.
While it’s a victory for animal rights groups and other opponents of the zoo—no tourists means no more tiger cubs being held for photoshoots—it’s important to note the animals will continue remain in Lowe’s possession.
Lowe writes that the massive profits made since Tiger King will be used to care for the animals… although he expresses relief they will “will no longer be subject to USDA inspections or PETA spies.”
“The Tiger King phenomenon has definitely changed our lives in many ways. It has brought us more attention than any human deserves, good and bad,” Lowe writes.
“It has, and probably will continue to make us a target of every nutjob and animal rights loon in the World, but we are prepared.”