Victory for Animals: Store That Sold Animal Encounters Closes Down

Published by Zachary Toliver.

As Neon Jungle OKC—a notorious store in Oklahoma City that offered “playtime” with exotic baby animals—closes its doors, the world is a bit brighter for animals.

Located inside a shopping mall, Neon Jungle exhibited baby tigers, a black bear cub, a lemur, and a wolf or wolf-dog hybrid pup and sold “encounters” with them. Customers were also allowed to take photos with the animals during their sessions.

Prior to the store’s closure, Oklahoma City Animal Welfare had an ongoing investigation into it, and PETA had also made a request to the city manager to investigate the facility further for operating in apparent violation of the Oklahoma City Exotic Wildlife Abatement Ordinance, which prohibits, with a few exceptions, keeping exotic wildlife within the corporate city limits.

PETA also contacted the owners and managers of Plaza Mayor at the Crossroads—where the store was located—and nearly 80,000 PETA supporters urged them to sever ties with Neon Jungle!

Neon Jungle owner Jeff Lowe also owns the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park—a tiger mill that supplies Neon Jungle with animals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has repeatedly cited this facility for failing to provide animals with basic necessities, such as drinking water, and incurring many violations for filthy, wet, unsafe, and dilapidated animal enclosures as well as dangerous animal handling practices.

Lowe claims that he’s now moving Neon Jungle to Las Vegas in order to make more money. But no matter where he attempts to set up shop, people who exploit captive wild animals should get used to their businesses shutting down. Public support for companies that exploit and abuse animals for entertainment is at an all-time low.

Behind Every Photo Op or Paid ‘Encounter’ With an Exotic Animal Is a Life of Deprivation

Thanks to a PETA eyewitness, the world has seen how an infamous tiger mill abused babies for profit. At Dade City’s Wild Things—one of the many roadside zoos that force animals to interact with humans—infants were removed from their mothers within hours or days of birth so that they could get “used to” being handled by people. In their natural habitat, tiger cubs are protected and nurtured by their mothers for two years.

Once these animals used as photo props are no longer babies and become too large and dangerous to use for pictures, they’re typically shipped off to roadside zoos and forgotten.

What You Can Do

Never patronize a roadside zoo, and leave wildlife in peace. If there’s any risk that your photo or encounter is going to hurt or stress an animal, it’s not worth it.

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind