Michael Jackson's Alligator Killed In Suspicious Fire At Controversial Animal Park
An alligator that once belonged to Michael Jackson was killed and another injured along with several other reptiles in a suspicious fire at a controversial exotic animal park in Oklahoma. Investigators believe the blaze that occurred on March 26 between 2:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. at the Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park in Wynnewood, Okla. may have been a case of arson, The Oklahoman reports. Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes called the fire that killed seven alligators and one crocodile a "clear criminal act," and suspects that the fire may have been started in an attempt to cover up a burglary. An arson investigator has not officially declared the fire an arson, but did determine it wasn't an electrical fire or something related to a storm.
Joe Schreibvogel, the founder and spokesman for the park, has pointed the finger at animal rights activists and extremists. He says he has many enemies. Rhodes confirmed that Schreibvogel is a frequent target of those groups.
The fire claimed the lives of seven alligators and one crocodile. One of those alligators was relocated to the park from the Neverland Ranch after Jackson's death. One crocodile was able to escape, and another of Jackson's alligators is recovering from smoke inhalation, KJRH Tulsa reports. In a video posted to YouTube, Schreibvogel said the animals were "boiling alive in a towering inferno."
Schreibvogel believes the real reason for the fire was to force him to stop producing his TV show, Joe Exotic TV. The fire destroyed a production studio, and Schreibvogel said some of his equipment was stolen, including storage devices that contain 60,000 hours of footage stemming back from 1999. Schreibvogel's YouTube channel has many clips of the show, and it's a lot of animal wrangling, blowing stuff up, shooting guns and racing 4-wheelers. He refers to himself as a "gun-carrying redneck with a mullet" and has given himself the nickname "The Tiger King." The softer side of The Tiger King shows him being very anti-drug and bottle-feeding baby monkeys.
"They might have shut me up for just a little while, but let me tell you they have awoken a monster. Now, Joe Exotic is pissed off," Schreibvogel said in one video.
Critiques of Schreibvogel and his park are easy to find. PETA called his animal park "a total hole" and a "shady joint." They allege that the animals are beaten, starved and overbred. In another article, PETA claimed that their own investigators found injured animals being left to suffer and a pair of recently declawed lion cubs being forced to play with visitors until their paws bled, among other horrors.
They made a video of several of their allegations. Warning: the video is graphic.