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Chicken-Fried News: Neon news

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For a mere $25, you and a close friend of your choice can cuddle baby tigers, bears and wolves borrowed from their mothers so they can travel for hours a day — in this case from Wynnewood to Oklahoma City — for photo ops and play sessions at the mall.

When it’s worded that way, dude, it sounds a little bit … exploitative.

Neon Jungle petting zoo operators boast 64 years of combined experience working with such animals and emphasize that people gain more appreciation for and education about animals when they can interact with them.

Fair enough.

Several months and several thousands of dollars of petting zoo revenue later, the animals, grown and no longer able to maintain their babylike cuteness, will often be left in unaccredited roadside zoos. At least those are the complaints People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has against Neon Jungle petting zoo, which opened in Plaza Mayor at the Crossroads this spring.

But hey, who doesn’t want to be able to kiss a baby lion in air-conditioned comfort just after shopping for your favorite silky underwear?

Neon Jungle is operated by Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. Both are the subject of PETA petitions, and Oklahoma City Animal Welfare is investigating Neon Jungle. Additionally, an Oklahoma City ordinance prohibits exotic animals from being kept within city limits, but petting zoo owner Jeff Lowe told The Oklahoman that during a recent visit from OKC Animal Welfare, he was told that his cub-cuddling operation was operating within the law.

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