There’s something ironic about Joe Exotic’s zoo opening to the public right now. The show that kept everyone entertained during the lockdown is now indirectly responsible for bringing together hordes of tourists, and potentially leading to more infections. Tiger King Park, the exotic animal zoo featured on Netflix’s mega-popular Tiger King series, reopened this weekend in Wynnewood, Oklahoma.
The park, previously owned by Joe Exotic, was allowed to open following a weeks-long closure, as long as workers and visitors adhered to the CDC’s sanitation and social distancing protocols. But photos and videos taken at the park, shared by TMZ, show a different reality.
Visitors do not appear to be wearing masks or staying six feet apart, and workers themselves also didn’t seem to be taking the rules very seriously. Head zookeeper Erik Cowie and the new owner, Jeff Lowe, are shown in pictures standing very close to park visitors.
The flagrant disregard for social distancing rules being violated isn’t the only thing disappointing about the reopening. Despite the documentary series shedding light on the mistreatment of tigers in exotic zoos like these, tourists do not seem to care. So if you were still hoping Tiger King would have a Blackfish effect on tigers, it appears the doc focusing on the colorful characters instead of the plight of the animals did little to deter crowds from visiting these zoos. In fact, there could be an uptick in visitors.
Worst yet, we know that coronavirus can be transmitted to tigers. At least seven big cats have tested positive at the Bronx Zoo. So not only are the tigers being exploited, but now they’re also at further risk for contracting coronavirus from the crowds.