WATCH: 7 Seconds Prove Big Cats Suffer at ‘Tiger King’ Roadside Zoo

Published by Katherine Sullivan.

A concerned citizen has provided PETA with photos and video footage of young lions suffering from severe “flystrike” at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park (G.W. Zoo), a roadside zoo operated by Jeff Lowe and formerly owned and operated by fellow Tiger King villain “Joe Exotic” Maldonado-Passage. Flystrike is a condition in which flies, usually drawn to animal waste, bite other animals and lay eggs on them and the hatched maggots feed on their skin—or biting flies feed on an animal’s blood and inflict relentless pain and discomfort. And according to veterinarians who viewed the documentation, it’s destroying the young tigers’ ears. See for yourself:

PETA is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to confiscate these animals found to be suffering terribly and to revoke Lowe’s license to exhibit them.

lion with apparent lesion on right forelimb at G.W. Zoo

Juvenile lion with a lesion on the right front leg

Flystrike, which can occur at facilities with poor sanitation practices, is a painful condition—and photos of one lion’s ears show that they’re raw and bloody, with damaged tips.

lion with red, raw lesions on ears at G.W. Zoo

Juvenile lion with open wounds on the ears

Another image (below) shows a juvenile lion’s ears blanketed with flies. Veterinarians who observed the documentation have opined that the wounds would be extremely painful and that if the lions aren’t appropriately treated immediately, they’re at risk of suffering from infection, chronic inflammation, severe and permanent scarring, deformation, or even worse—the ear tissue could become so compromised that it dies (causing the lions to lose some or all of the affected ear).

lion with ears covered in flies at G.W. Zoo

Juvenile lion whose ears are covered with flies

We’ve urged the USDA, which has barely been operating because of the pandemic, to investigate reports of neglect and suffering at G.W. Zoo over the past several months. Because Lowe is a defendant in an ongoing PETA Endangered Species Act lawsuit challenging cruel big cat cub-petting encounters sold by his former business partner, Tim Stark—who sent the juvenile lions in these photos and video footage to Lowe, in violation of a preliminary injunction—we’ve filed an emergency motion with the court seeking sanctions against Lowe and Stark.

The USDA’s inaction allowed Joe Exotic to abuse and neglect animals for years, and so far, the agency has failed to help the big cats held by Lowe, too.

In the wake of Tiger King, the public eye is on the USDA to do its job and shut Lowe and his despicable roadside zoo down, pronto.

Jeff. Lowe. Must. Go.

Lowe recently lost ownership of the property to Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue, he faces an upcoming hearing in Las Vegas relating to charges of possessing exotic animals and operating a business without a license, and the state of Oklahoma is suing him for at least $50,000 in back sales taxes.

You Can Help Big Cats and Others

We recently placed a full-page ad in the Wynnewood Gazette to encourage employees and volunteers of the G.W. Zoo to share their firsthand accounts of veterinary care failures and other abuse. Please, if you’ve witnessed animal suffering at any roadside zoo or other captive-wildlife attraction, share your firsthand accounts at PETA.org/Abuse.

Report Your Concerns Here

You don’t have to be a roadside zoo whistleblower to help animals trapped in highway hellholes like G.W. Zoo—you just have to care. Please, never support abusive animal shows or exhibits.

Take Action to Help Tigers in Tourist Traps

Find a real tiger sanctuary, instead—where big cats aren’t abused or exploited.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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