Outrage turns to zoo's real story

There were some words of outrage for some after they read what a business partner had to say about the current status of an animal park near Wynnewood.

One area resident living near the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park says Eric Yano’s claim the park is doing OK and the animals and any tax issues are being taken care is pure nonsense.

Instead, Gaylynn Eastwood responded strongly to a story in last week’s PV Democrat by saying the facts show the exact opposite is true.

“I dispute everything Yano said,” Eastwood said. “Let’s get the true story out there. The animals are being abused; they’re dying out there.

“The public needs to know this – not the smoke screens or made up versions. Documentation shows the real story.

“They’re exploiting animals and taking advantage of the state and the county by operating a business and not paying any dues.

“It’s not a matter of what my thoughts are. It’s a matter of black and white. All this stuff is easily proven.”

The care of the animals now at the area zoo is a top concern for many, including a variety of online postings by park visitors.

Officials with the Garvin County Sheriff’s Office confirm there is still an open investigation into the park on allegations of animal abuse, unlawful disposal of animal caucuses and environmental related violations.

At the same time the U.S. Department of Agriculture has recently cited the park for numerous failures to provide adequate veterinary care to animals.

“The USDA report shows they had to stop an inspection to get veterinary care for an animal,” Eastwood said.

“That’s rare for them to have to stop an inspection to get the right care for an animal.”

When the park opened more than two decades ago Eastwood worked for a short time feeding animals and cleaning cages.

“When I worked with Joe at the start it was a true sanctuary that was rescuing animals. It was probably like that up until 2011,” she said, referring to Joe Exotic.

When Eastwood came back to work at the park in 2014 she wound up in the gift shop and began to see problems with credit card charges for sponsorships.

Now the focus is on Jeff Lowe and how she says the park is being operated will all kinds of financial problems.

“That business is not operating legally,” Eastwood said while citing records showing the park does not have a sales tax permit.

“He’s operating without a sales tax permit. There’s no sales tax permit connected to the park out there.”

Court records show the park’s tax permit renewal was denied on May 1 and as of May 27 the park owes just over $50,000 in delinquent taxes.

Documents from the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC) also show a lien been placed on the property in December 2019 for the nearly $48,000 in sales taxes not paid in 2016.

That is the same year Lowe stepped in as the new owner of the park as Eastwood claims no taxes owed by the facility been paid since.

“Without a sales tax permit it’s robbing our state of revenue, robbing our county and our schools,” she said. “They’re not paying the taxes that are due. They have not paid any sales tax since 2016.

“As a taxpayer in Garvin County it’s irked me to no end that he didn’t have to pay his taxes.”

Park officials said this week attorneys on their side are currently working with the OTC to get the facility’s tax situation completely up-to-date.

Then there’s the recent decision in the lawsuit between Big Cat Rescue and Joe Exotic.

Before his conviction and incarceration in a murder-for-hire plot, Exotic was being sued by Carol Baskin and the Florida animal facility she oversees for copyright infringement.

Back in early June a judge awarded the property of the Wynnewood area zoo to Big Cat Rescue and ordered Lowe to vacate the premises in 120 days.

Eastwood says that included an order to pay a monthly rental fee of more $4,000 starting July 1.

She adds Lowe was also ordered to provide financial records and show proof of insurance as a contempt of court hearing was scheduled in the case.

Park officials again said this week the contempt of court issue is in the process of being resolved.

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