'Tiger King' Joe Exotic's former Oklahoma zoo has permanently shut down

Owner Jeff Lowe vowed the park's animals would still have 'excellent care'

(FILES) In this file undated photo courtesy of Netflix shows Joseph "Joe Exotic" Maldonado-Passage with one of his tigers obtained on january 20, 2020. A new episode of Netflix's wildly popular "Tiger King" will air this weekend, the company said on April 9, 2020, bringing fans up-to-date with the lives of the smash hit zookeeper documentary's surreal subjects. The series about a gay, mullet-wearing private zoo owner who calls himself "Joe Exotic" -- now in prison for murder-for-hire -- has become a US cultural phenomenon, providing welcome relief to a nation under coronavirus lockdown.
 - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / NETFLIX" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
 / AFP / Netflix US / - / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / NETFLIX" - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

The private zoo made famous by hit Netflix series Tiger King has shut its doors permanently after its license was suspended.

The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, located in Oklahoma, US, has closed with immediate effect after the US Department of Agriculture revoked it licence on Monday.

The park, formerly owned by flamboyant zoo keeper Joe Exotic, is known for its large collection of lions and tigers.

Jeff Lowe, current owner of the zoo, said the decision to shut had been made following pressure from animal rights charity Peta.

"The Tiger King phenomenon has definitely changed our lives in many ways," Lowe, who also featured in the Netflix documentary, wrote on Facebook. "It has brought us more attention than any human deserves, good and bad."

He added that the zoo's collection of animals would "continue to have excellent care".

Lowe also revealed he had voluntarily forfeited his exhibitor's license, which allowed him to buy and sell animals, due to the park's permanent closure.

The closure follows a federal judge's ruling in June that the zoo be handed over to Exotic's rival, founder of Big Cat Rescue Carole Baskin, as part of a trademark infringement lawsuit.

Court documents stated Lowe, who took over management of the park after Exotic was jailed for a murder contract, had 120 days to vacate the zoo.

True-crime series Tiger King became a worldwide phenomenon when it was released in March, and was reportedly watched 34 million times in its first 10 days on the streaming platform. It told the story of Exotic, his rivalry with activist Baskin and his imprisonment for hiring a hitman to try to kill her.

In the series, Baskin was a vocal critic of Exotic’s animal park, with her contrasting view of how to care for tigers and other wild animals providing much of the plot line for the show.

The series is in the running for six Emmy awards, including best documentary series, ahead of a ceremony in September.

In May, it was announced the show had inspired an eight-episode drama series starring Nicolas Cage as Exotic.

Additional reporting by Reuters