Zoo featured on Netflix's 'Tiger King' reopens to crowds of hundreds

Many seen ignoring coronavirus social-distancing requirements, without masks

The Oklahoma zoo featured on Netflix's hit docuseries “Tiger King” reopened over the weekend as crowds rushed to the animal park once owned by now-famous Joe Exotic, according to a Wednesday report.

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Now aptly named Tiger King Zoo, the Wynnewood, Oklahoma, facility provided the setting for “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” The Netflix sensation told the story of Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, and his rivals, such as Carole Baskin, and other exotic animal owners.

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The park is now run by Jeffery Lowe, who had initially partnered with Exotic before the deal went sour, and his wife, Lauren, and was permitted to reopen over the weekend after closing in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Photos obtained by the Daily Mail show dozens of eager customers waiting in line and reportedly hundreds inside, many ignoring the six-foot social-distancing requirement or without wearing masks.

Oklahoma reported at least 4,127 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday afternoon, while 1,210,822 cases have been reported nationwide, data shows.

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The eight-part Netflix series was released on March 20 and attracted roughly 34.3 million people in its first 10 days, Adweek reported.

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The staggering viewership numbers were second only to season three of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” which garnered an American audience of 36.3 million people for the same 10-day period, according to the report.

Exotic was convicted in April 2019 of federal murder-for-hire charges in connection to attempts to have Baskin killed for allegedly trying to force him out of business for years.

Joseph Maldonado-Passage seen in a Santa Rosa County Jail booking photo. (Santa Rosa County Jail via AP)

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He was also convicted of falsifying wildlife records and for violating the Endangered Species Act for killing five tiger cubs.

He was sentenced to 22 years in prison and is seeking a presidential pardon.

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On March 17, 2020, he filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma federal court seeking $94 million in damages from the U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services and its former director, Daniel Ashe, two federal government employees, a confidential informant and former zoo co-owner, Lowe, according to a separate Facebook post.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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