Federal authorities faulted Netflix’s “Tiger King” star and G.W. Zoo operator Jeff Lowe for multiple alleged veterinary care shortcomings and other issues at the exotic wildlife park, according to a newly unveiled inspection report.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) document, dated June 22, also corroborates a whistleblower’s photos released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) last month that showed a “flystrike” condition on multiple large animals at the park.
A juvenile lion shown with open wounds on its ears, believed to be caused by “flystrike.” (Courtesy: PETA)
USDA inspectors visited the park to inspect it and to ensure veterinary care for the animals days after the photos emerged, according to Garvin County Sheriff Jim Mullett. But the inspectors’ findings were just released.
“It’s bad business as usual at the G.W. Zoo, where Jeff Lowe has let lions, tigers, and bears suffer and even die without needed veterinary care,” PETA attorney Brittany Peet said in a statement.
Inspectors allegedly found two deceased, unburied big cats on the property, according to the document.
“There is a large pile of primarily wood debris in the back of the park,” the report reads. “The licensee stated that it contains a partially burned Tigon carcass said to be named Young Yi and a black tarp covering a deceased tiger by the named of Dot. There is a foul odor of decomposing flesh and many flies are present on the boards and surrounding areas. “
Jeff Lowe assumed control of the big cat zoo from Joe Exotic before a judge granted ownership to rival Carole Baskin. (Taylor Lowe)
The unburied carcasses were attracting flies, and those flies contributed to flystrike afflicting tigers, lions and wolves at the zoo, the inspectors found.
The flystrike condition occurs when flies bite animals and lay eggs — and then the hatching maggots gnaw away at their skin.
Inspectors said park representatives told them Young Yi, a 17-year-old male hybrid cat, had died of kidney failure about a week before the inspection. According to the inspectors, he had not been seen by the facility’s veterinarian and “therefore was not diagnosed nor treated for anything.”
At least one animal, a 16-week-old lion cub named Nala, was in such poor condition authorities removed her from the park and sent her directly to a veterinarian, according to the inspection.
“She had a string of purulent nasal discharge hanging from her right nostril and had an accumulation of green discharge in her eyes,” the report reads. “Her respiration was shallow and rapid. The inspection was halted immediately by the inspector and the facility representative was instructed to obtain immediate veterinary care for the animal.”
The USDA ordered Lowe to address most of the citations before the end of June.
Lowe did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lowe is part of an ongoing legal battle with PETA in a lawsuit accusing him and his former business partner Tim Stark of violating the Endangered Species Act.
Several of Stark’s animals have made their way to G.W. Zoo, including at least four lions and Gizzy, a bear found “emaciated” during the USDA inspection, according to PETA.
The animal rights group wants the court to remove the big cats from G.W. Zoo and place them in the care of an appropriate animal sanctuary.
Lowe told Fox News in early June that the judge had given him 120 days to vacate the property after granting control to “Tiger King” rival Carole Baskin. He said he plans to bring his animals to a new, larger facility.
“Tiger King” star Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot that targeted Baskin.