The Tiger King Zoo Is Shuttering Permanently, 'Effective Immediately'

Former owner Jeff Lowe announced the news in a since-deleted Facebook post

The zoo featured in Netflix’s Tiger King has closed permanently, former owner Jeff Lowe announced Tuesday.

The closure of the G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma is “effective immediately,” according to a since-deleted Facebook post from Lowe. The park was previously owned by Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as "Joe Exotic," the eccentric star of the Netflix docuseries. Lowe's lawyer and manager did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

“The Tiger King phenomenon has definitely changed our lives in many ways,” Lowe's post said. “It has brought us more attention than any human deserves, good and bad. 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.”

Tiger King

“It has also provided us with an unfathomable source of income,” Lowe added. “Income that will guarantee the long term care of our animals and allow us to be very selective going forward.”

Jeff Lowe and Lauren Dropla
Jeff and Lauren Lowe. Ruaridh Connellan

He said that due to the closure, he has voluntarily forfeited his United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) exhibitor’s license. However, a USDA report indicates that Lowe’s license was suspended on Monday following a July inspection that found multiple violations, including several repeat infractions.

The USDA inspection found that the park had not followed the proper veterinary or safety programs. In one instance, inspectors discovered that the only refrigerated storage for the animals’ food was a broken refrigerator truck that zoo officials falsely claimed had been fixed.

For his part, Lowe said, "Rest assured that all the animals will continue to have excellent care, and consequently will no longer be subject to USDA inspections or PETA spies."

RELATED VIDEO: Carole Baskin Granted Control of Joe Exotic's Former Zoo as Jeff Lowe Has 120 Days to Vacate Property

In the Facebook post, Lowe said the USDA had previously awarded his facility “five consecutive perfect inspections,” but have now “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.

In an update posted several hours later, he reiterated that it was "a voluntary forfeiture" and that the zoo's team has been contemplating the closure "for weeks." He added that the USDA issued a 21 day suspension on his license — "Day 22, I could open right back up if I wanted. I don’t want to," Lowe wrote.

The closure comes nearly two months after Lowe was ordered by a judge to hand over park ownership to Carole Baskin.

Carole Baskin, Jeff Lowe
Carole Baskin, Jeff Lowe. Facebook; Ruaridh Connellan/BarcroftImages / Barcroft Media via Getty

Baskin, who is also featured in Tiger King, said that her Big Cat Rescue would aid Lowe in placing the animals in new homes, but he declined her offer, explaining that the animals will be re-homed at his new Tiger King Park, which is set to open in Thackerville, Oklahoma, in September. There, Lowe plans to film a new reality series alongside wife Lauren.

"It'll be our narrative on the Tiger King with evidence to support our sides of the stories. And it will be about the transfer of all these beautiful animals from Joe's facility to the new facility," Lowe told PEOPLE in June.

In his Facebook post, Lowe added, "Our new park will, at least for the foreseeable future, be a private film set for Tiger King related television content for cable and streaming services."

Lowe was also recently sued by the state of Oklahoma for back taxes owed by the park, but said the delinquent taxes were a result of Maldonado-Passage's "mismanagement" of the zoo when he was in control.

Earlier this year, Maldonado-Passage was sentenced to 22 years in prison after being found guilty in 2019 for paying a hitman $3,000 to kill Baskin. He was also found guilty on multiple charges of violating both the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records, and the Endangered Species Act.

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