SMITHFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — Fulton County’s only zoo is shutting down after operating for 30 years.
Brown’s Oakridge Zoo, which was also mentioned in the hit documentary ‘Tiger King” made a statement on Facebook reading the owner is deciding to retire. The statement also goes on to read events like the pandemic and “drones flying over our facility” made it harder for them to remain open.
“So, with all that being said, and everything going on in the world, and the numerous threats, and the drones flying over our facility and immoral news crews showing up after being asked to stay away, here comes the hardest announcement we could have never anticipated making, the most difficult decision we’ve ever encountered and a huge heartbreak to the entire family, my mom has decided to retire. Brown’s Oakridge Zoo will be closing.
At this time we feel that this is in the best interest of the animals and our family. We again, thank you for your continued support throughout the years and the many friendships. The animals are forever grateful to you for coming to see them. And we are forever grateful to you for allowing us to be a part of so many of your lives. From birthdays to proposals, weddings to retirements, senior pictures to advertisements, and everything in between, we thank you!”Brown Oakridge Zoo
According to the Zoo, ‘Tiger King’s’ documentary has “allowed a negative light to be shed on an already very controversial issue.” The family-owned zoo claims they taken in and cared for hundreds of animals over the years and provided a better life for the animals.
“While there have been hundreds of animals at our facility, we never owned any of them. They owned us! They were spoiled to say the least. Many were raised in the house. It was easier for us (mainly my mother) to take care of them through the night this way. This never was a 9-5 job. It is a 24/7 labor of love and nothing less,” Oakridge Zoo said.
The Zoo has traded and known ‘Tiger King’s’ Joe Exotic for 15 years. The zoo told WMBD in April the animals they received from Joe always seemed in good health. They also said keeping big cats in captivity is ensuring the animals live a good life and prevent extinction.