EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — If you’re scrolling through social media right now, you’re probably seeing news about two things: coronavirus and Tiger King.
The Netflix documentary has gone viral, following an eccentric zoo owner and his big cats.
Some of those cats you might’ve seen before, as they live right here in Northwest Arkansas!
Joe Exotic, the self proclaimed “Tiger King” is the star of a Netflix series where he shows off his big guns, and his big cats.
“A lot of the animals that he was breeding and stuff are all around the country,” said Emily McCormack, an animal curator at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.
Some of those animals were rescued by Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, and now live in Eureka Springs.
Joe Exotic reportedly bred and sold his cats to private owners, some who weren’t able to actually take care of them.
McCormack said,”It was a privately owned zoo that was shut down. Basically a guy had a few animals in his yard.”
Recently, Turpentine Creek posted this photo to Facebook to show people the 13 cats who once belonged to Joe.
“The two that we recently rescued in Oklahoma, Naula and Kiara, the guy said he had gotten them from Joe.
But Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, previously owned by Joe, disputes this—saying the cats did not come from their facility.
McCormack stands firm though, saying her team never claimed to get the cats directly from Wynnewood.
KNWA/Fox 24 reached out to Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park multiple times, and received no comment.
The Oklahoma zoo advertises interaction with cubs, which is an activity McCormack said ruined the health of some of the cats they’ve picked up.
“While those animals are only 4 months old, a lot of times we see metabolic bone disease set in,” she said. “A lot of these cub petting facilities around the country can only use the animals for a very short period of time. Usually at the age of 12 weeks they’re quote on quote retired, and so this pay for play opportunity happens at their youngest and also most critical time of their life.”
Mccormack urges anyone heading to big cat facilities to do their research before deciding to visit.