Why Tiger King Joe Exotic's Zoo Is In Danger Of Shutting Down

Joe Exotic on Tiger King (2020)

Although Netflix’s Tiger King docuseries aired months ago and Joe Exotic is now serving a 22-year prison sentence, the saga of his controversial zoo seems to be far from finished. The most recent development in the story saw ownership of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park go to Exotic’s longtime rival, Carole Baskin. However, the current owner -- Jeff Lowe -- has another hurdle to face, as the facility is now in danger of being shut down. But why is the zoo now facing closure?

Apparently, a judge has been asked by the Oklahoma Tax Commission to formally shut down the park on the grounds of delinquent tax sales. Per USA Today (opens in new tab), owner Jeff Lowe and the park owe $50,274 in taxes that were collected in 2016. In addition, both Lowe and the zoo have yet to pay an undisclosed amount of taxes since then.

Jeff Lowe was ultimately told to cease all business operations when the Oklahoma Tax Commission refused to renew his tax permit back in May. Despite this, as explained by lawyers, Lowe has violated state law by keeping the park open, “which provides that it is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine or jail time to conduct business without the requisite licensing.”

Some may be surprised that Jeff Lowe is still keeping things running against government orders, but the park has actually experienced a spike in popularity since the debut of the docuseries. The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park has reportedly garnered visitors from the across the country over the past several months.

Jeff Lowe was initially brought in by Joseph Maldonado-Passage (or Joe Exotic) to assist in enhancing the business. Maldonado-Passage would eventually put the park in Lowe’s name since he himself was dealing with legal problems at the time. And when Exotic eventually went to jail, Lowe and his wife became the co-operators of the zoo.

Despite keeping the park open, it’s become clear that Jeff Lowe has no love for Exotic’s property. The zoo owner has stated that he’s more than ready to leave the grounds and the memories of working with Joe Exotic behind. After he vacates the premises, he’s even planning to open up an even bigger facility in Thackerville, Oklahoma sometime this fall.

And by the time he leaves, he’s not exactly aiming to have things in the best shape for the incoming Carole Baskin. According to Lowe, the park is in a state of “complete hell,” and he has no plans to fix things up before heading out.

It’s unclear as to how Jeff Lowe plans to proceed following this new court order, especially given that his time as owner is just about up. All that can be said is that this paired with Carole Baskin’s ownership makes the future of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park fairly uncertain.

And if you still haven’t seen how it all began, you can still check out Tiger King on Netflix now.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.