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Animal welfare group wants to inspect Oklahoma zoo

WYNNEWOOD — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is asking a federal judge for a court order to inspect the living conditions of 19 tigers from Florida at Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.

The tigers are at the center of a legal battle between the animal welfare group and a Florida roadside zoo.

PETA wants an investigator from the nonprofit, up to four attorneys, an animal behavior expert and a videographer to inspect the Wynnewood zoo on Nov. 11, according to documents filed Friday in Oklahoma City federal court. The motion also asks that the U.S. Marshals Service escort PETA to protect inspectors from "significant peril" at the zoo.

PETA claims the Florida zoo, Dade City's Wild Things, shipped the tigers to Greater Wynnewood Animal Park, about 1,200 miles overland in a metal livestock trailer in July to avoid a court-ordered PETA inspection there.

PETA filed a lawsuit against the Dade City's Wild Things in October 2016, claiming the Florida zoo violated the federal Endangered Species Act by separating tiger cubs from their mothers for paid photo sessions with customers. The Dade City zoo once allegedly allowed customers to swim with tiger cubs in a pool, charging $200 in exchange for a half-hour swim.

The tigers left Florida the same day a federal judge issued an injunction ordering the Florida zoo not to remove any of the animals.

Attempts to contact Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park owner Jeff Lowe or entertainment director Joseph Maldonado were unsuccessful Monday.

Maldonado is running for governor in Oklahoma as a Libertarian.

In court documents, James Orr, an investigator for PETA, claimed Maldonado told him during a phone conversation that he would "rather euthanize the tigers" than have them moved to a PETA-approved animal refuge in Colorado.

In court documents, Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park has said it will not harm the tigers, or move the animals while the court case continues.

"The parties do not like each other," attorneys for the Wynnewood zoo said in a court filing last week. "Regardless of any things said in anger, Wynnewood is not going to violate any lawful court orders and not going to harm any tigers."

Related Photos
<p>Joe Maldonado, 2018 gubernatorial candidate and entertainment director at Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman]</p>

Joe Maldonado, 2018 gubernatorial candidate and entertainment director at Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-756d18490bcdaaa88dcd0efcae844b65.jpg" alt="Photo - Joe Maldonado, 2018 gubernatorial candidate and entertainment director at Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman] " title=" Joe Maldonado, 2018 gubernatorial candidate and entertainment director at Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Joe Maldonado, 2018 gubernatorial candidate and entertainment director at Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. [Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b70153b488c3a6424f3fa8f0e3a6c299.jpg" alt="Photo - These tigers are among 19 transferred from a Florida zoo to the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in July, amid a court battle with animal rights activists. [Facebook] " title=" These tigers are among 19 transferred from a Florida zoo to the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in July, amid a court battle with animal rights activists. [Facebook] "><figcaption> These tigers are among 19 transferred from a Florida zoo to the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in July, amid a court battle with animal rights activists. [Facebook] </figcaption></figure>
Brianna Bailey

Brianna Bailey joined The Oklahoman in January 2013 as a business writer. During her time at The Oklahoman, she has walked across Oklahoma City twice, once north-to-south down Western Avenue, and once east-to-west, tracing the old U.S. Route 66.... Read more ›

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