Video: Big Cats Suffering Right Now at G.W. Zoo

PETA Releases Photos, Footage of Lions Whose Ears Are Being Eaten Away by Maggots and Flies

For Immediate Release:
June 25, 2020

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Wynnewood, Okla. – A whistleblower has provided PETA with photos and video footage of juvenile lions suffering from severe “flystrike”—a condition in which flies, usually drawn to uncleared animal waste, bite other animals and lay eggs on them and the hatched maggots eat away at their skin—which is destroying their ears, at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park (G.W. Zoo), operated by Jeff Lowe. PETA is now asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to confiscate animals found to be suffering and to revoke Lowe’s license to exhibit animals.

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

Another image shows a juvenile lion’s ears blanketed in 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 risk losing their ears.

PETA has urged the USDA, which has been barely operating because of the pandemic, to investigate reports of neglect and suffering at the 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 by his former business partner, Tim Stark—who sent the juvenile lions in these photos and video to Lowe, in violation of a preliminary injunction—PETA has filed an emergency motion with the court seeking to have the lions transferred to an accredited sanctuary right away.

“The USDA’s inaction allowed ‘Joe Exotic’ to abuse and neglect animals for years, and so far, it’s also failed to help the big cats held by Jeff Lowe,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “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.”

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 for 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. PETA 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 at PETA.org/Abuse.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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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