Zookeeper-governor candidate feuds with PETA over tigers

WYNNEWOOD — A roadside animal park and its colorful zookeeper, Joe Exotic, are entrenched in a new battle with animal rights activists over the fate of 19 tigers from a troubled Florida zoo.

Greater Wynnewood Animal Parkzookeeper and Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate Joe “Exotic” Maldonado says the animals now legally belong to him. The nonprofit People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wants the Florida tigers to go to a wildlife refuge in Colorado.

Maldonado has claimed to have as many as 200 tigers, lions and hybrid big cats at Greater Wynnewood Animal Park, but federal inspection records from 2016 put the number of cats at the park closer to 100. The zoo has already built new cages to house the Florida tigers, Maldonado said.

“The tigers are here to stay,” Maldonado said. “They are comfortable and they are home.”


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