Newly released photos show alleged animal neglect found during a federal inspection of a “Tiger King” star's zoo in Oklahoma, which have led to citations against the big cat handler, Jeff Lowe.
The images show animal enclosures with exposed sub-floor grating, lions with ears infested and gnawed through by flies and maggots, an emaciated brown bear and a woodpile where the carcass of a big cat was partially burned and then allegedly left to rot.
Lowe, who owns the G.W. Zoo and is featured in the Netflix series, has dismissed the accusations of animal neglect as unfair and misleading.
After the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited him for veterinary neglect at the end of June, he told TMZ many of the animals that arrive at the exotic animal park are "at the end of their lives and suffer from arthritis and do lose some weight toward the end of their days.”
But the USDA inspection cited multiple violations, including instances of a flesh-eating condition known as flystrike, arthritic wolves in a concrete enclosure without any padding or bedding, and the carcasses of two big cats on the property.
The inspector’s report noted that a woodpile at the zoo was emitting “a foul odor of decomposing flesh” and that it was mobbed with flies.
“The licensee stated that it contains a partially burned Tigon carcass said to be named Young Yi, and a black tarp covering a deceased tiger by the named of Dot,” according to the report, which referred to a tiger-lion hybrid.
The inspection came after a whistleblower took pictures of the flystrike affliction and sent them to PETA, which raised the alarm. Flystrike is caused by flies that bite animals and lay eggs, then the hatching maggots gnaw away at their skin.
PETA in 2017 brought an Endangered Species Act lawsuit against Lowe and his former business partner Tim Stark, who supplied some of the animals at G.W. Zoo, including Gizzy, a bear who the USDA inspector allegedly found “emaciated.” Stark also provided Nala, a lion cub, who was taken for immediate veterinary care during the inspection.
Lowe has not responded to requests for comment on the inspector’s findings. He told TMZ in July that he rescued Nala from Stark. He also said he addressed the USDA inspection’s finding and corrected the violations.
The latest inspection report publicly available from the USDA is from a June 22 visit.
On Monday, an Indiana court granted partial summary judgment in favor of PETA in connection with the case against Stark, his company, Wildlife in Need and Wildlife in Deed Inc., and his ex-wife, Melissa Lane.
Stark, WIN and Lane received permanent injunctions barring them from exhibiting big cats, separating mothers from cubs, and from possessing lions, tigers and hybrids that were acquired in violation of federal law.
"PETA thanks the court for recognizing that Tim Stark must no longer be permitted to abuse big cats and flout the laws designed to protect them," PETA attorney Brittany Peet said in a statement. "This historic decision is a warning to the entire big-cat cub-petting industry that its days are numbered."
Fox News’ Tyler McCarthy contributed to this report.