Elana Pisani, exclusive to Global Animal
Another tragedy has occurred at a controversial zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. The Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park, previously the G.W. Exotic Animal Park, has come under fire before for its inhumane practices toward animals as well as unsafe conditions for both animals and people visiting or working at the zoo.
The incident this past Saturday occurred when a woman who works at the zoo stuck her arm in one of the tiger’s cages and the tiger proceeded to attack. The owner of the park, Joe Schreibvogel, or “Joe Exotic,” posted a statement regarding the incident on the zoo’s Facebook page claiming the worker had disregarded safety protocols and the tiger will not be put down.
We previously broke the story about Schreibvogel’s exotic animal mall attractions in which he traveled from mall to mall with tiger cubs in cages. Under Schreibvogel’s “care,” 23 baby tiger cubs died—deaths that Schreibvogel attributes to tainted formula.
Numerous animal rights organizations have campaigned against the zoo, including PETA and the Humane Society of the United States. The zoo was also featured on Animal Intervention, a TV show that investigates wildlife owners and urges them to give up their animals to legitimate sanctuaries.
The HSUS conducted an undercover investigation of the zoo’s practices in 2011 and were shocked by what they found—which included a child who had been knocked down and scratched by a young tiger.
“Our undercover investigation found the breeding of tigers, sale of tigers to substandard facilities, dangerous interactions between children and juvenile tigers, and a range of other suspect and potentially illegal practices.” said Wayne Pacelle of HSUS.
But zoo employees maintain that the 14-year-old tiger has never shown any signs of aggression in the past. In fact, Schreibvogel claims Saturday’s event is the first injury to take place at his zoo.
Last month, PETA launched a new campaign against the facility and is trying to stop the renewal of the Animal Welfare Act license issued to them by the USDA. In PETA’s undercover investigation in 2006, they revealed horrors such as:
“dead, dying, and injured animals; extremely crowded conditions; a serious lack of basic necessities, such as food, water, and veterinary care; inadequate cages; and untrained and insufficient staff, who were intentionally cruel to numerous animals.”
Schreibvogel’s license has been suspended before for violations and he has paid up to $25,000 in fines. Some of these violations include failing to maintain a clean and safe environment for animals, a lack of adequate veterinary care, and inadequate safety precautions for animals during public exhibition.
With this new incident at the park, questions only continue to arise regarding the safety and legitimacy of the zoo.
The USDA will be in charge of reviewing the event and the conditions of the park but due to the government shutdown, the USDA is currently not in operation.
Please join us in contacting the USDA, and ask that the agency not renew G.W.’s federal license.
Learn more about the HSUS’ investigation in the video below.