Tiger King

The 'Tiger King' Zoo Has Closed For Good & Will Become A... Film Set?

by Ani Bundel

Some companies are thriving in the new world of 2020's pandemic. For instance, Netflix turned out to be built for this, with a filming schedule that prepared series months ahead and the ability to release shows that hit the cultural zeitgeist. The first of these was Tiger King, which arrived at the end of March and went viral. The show affected the lives of everyone it touched, and now it's changed the course of the Tiger King zoo as well. Instead of remaining a zoo, The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park will now reorient itself to become a private film set.

In the Tiger King documentary, Carole Baskin tried to get control of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, with accusations that Joe Exotic (real name Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage) was abusing the animals in his care. According to the Tiger King documentary, Maldonado-Passage responded by trying to have Baskin assassinated.

Maldonado-Passage is now in jail, serving time. A federal jury found him guilty in 2019 of trying to have Baskin murdered, violating the Lacey Act (falsifying wildlife records), and violating the Endangered Species Act for his treatment of the animals in his care. Control of the zoo passed to his friend Jeff Lowe, but in June 2020, that was taken away when a judge ruled in Baskin's favor for ownership.

The zoo has now closed permanently. In a Facebook post, Lowe stated the park was closing "effectively immediately" and that he was voluntarily forfeiting his USDA exhibitors' license. Baskin responded to the news in her own Facebook post, saying she was waiting to find out what would happen to the tigers. As to what will become of the site:

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.

Considering the small Tiger King cottage industry that sprung up in the wake of Netflix's docuseries, that's a pretty savvy decision. Netflix has reportedly planned a second season, and Ryan Murphy is in talks to create a limited series for Netflix with Rob Lowe as Joe Exotic. But it's not just Netflix looking to use the park as a set for a docudrama. Universal and CBS are also making competing limited TV series as well, with Kate McKinnon as Carole Baskin in the former, and Nicolas Cage starring as Exotic in the latter. Plus, Investigation Discovery is working on a docu-series of its own, called Investigating the Strange World of Joe Exotic.