PETA Confiscates 3 Young Lions from Tiger King Subject Jeff Lowe's Zoo
Three lions have been rescued from the zoo featured in Tiger King.
On Monday, PETA and The Wild Animal Sanctuary announced that its teams confiscated a trio of young lion siblings from Jeff Lowe's now-defunct G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma, which was previously owned by Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka Joe Exotic.
The lions are now at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, where they will receive veterinary care. According to PETA, a fourth lion they were hoping to rescue "died under suspicious circumstances, allegedly in August. The group is investigating her death."
"PETA wants to end the G.W. Park's years of tormenting animals," Brittany Peet, PETA Foundation deputy general counsel for captive animal law enforcement, said in a statement, adding about a pending lawsuit: "Avoiding this lawsuit is as simple as letting PETA find new homes for these animals at reputable sanctuaries — and agreeing never to own, exhibit, or have any other contact with ESA-protected animals again."
Lowe's lawyer and manager did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
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Last month, Lowe wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post that the G.W. Exotic Animal Park would officially close its doors "effective immediately."
"The Tiger King phenomenon has definitely changed our lives in many ways," the post read. "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."
"It has also provided us with an unfathomable source of income," the post continued. "Income that will guarantee the long term care of our animals and allow us to be very selective going forward."
Lowe said that due to the closure, he has voluntarily forfeited his United States Department of Agriculture exhibitor’s license. However, a USDA report at the time indicated that Lowe’s license was suspended 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.
The closure announcement came nearly two months after Lowe was ordered by a judge to hand over park ownership to Big Cat Rescue's Carole Baskin.
Baskin — who was also featured in Tiger King and is currently competing on Dancing with the Stars — said 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.
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