Carole Baskin scored a major victory in her ongoing feud with Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka Joe Exotic. On Monday, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled in favor of Baskin's Big Cat Rescue Corporation that will allow her to take control of the zoo formerly owned by her nemesis. The order is part of a $1 million trademark judgment Exotic never fully paid.
Baskin and Exotic's rivalry was documented on Netflix's megahit, Tiger King. Last year, he was convicted for his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot against Baskin. Exotic was also found guilty of other crimes, including animal abuse, and is serving a 22-year sentence.
The big cat owners' feud dates back over a decade with their legal war starting in 2011. Baskin sued Exotic for trademark infringement and won. In 2013, he was ordered to pay her $1 million, which didn't happen. In 2016, Big Cat Rescue sued Exotic’s mother, Shirley M. Schreibvogel, for fraudulent transfer of the G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Park. This all played out on the docuseries.
In 2019, Schreibvogel acknowledged her role in multiple fraudulent transfers. U.S. District Judge Scott L. Palk's judgement on Monday sees that Baskin gets control of the 16.4-acre property — plus multiple cabins and vehicles — according to court documents viewed by Yahoo Entertainment.
Exotic's former zoo has been controlled by Jeff Lowe, another major Tiger King player, who has 120 days to vacate the property. That includes removing all animals. An attorney for Lowe tells CNN they aren't surprised by the ruling.
"We anticipated Carol Baskin getting the title to the former park that once belonged to Joe Exotic, and we did not challenge her attempts to do so," Lowe's lawyer said. "All of Jeff's focus is on opening the new Tiger King Park in Thackerville, (Oklahoma), which should be opening in the next 120 days."
Big Cat Rescue acknowledged the Oklahoma judgments on its website and said they are ready to "assist" Lowe should he need to find the animals "new homes."
"Over a year ago Mr. Lowe announced plans to move the animals to a location in Thackerville, OK that he has been constructing and he claims will be a better facility. He recently stated that he had funds to complete the zoo and a contractor who could complete it in a few months," it reads. "If the need arises to make other plans to place the animals in new homes, Big Cat Rescue and the animal welfare organizations that have previously successfully placed big cats from large facilities in new homes stand ready to assist."
Yahoo Entertainment reached out to Baskin for comment, who isn't issuing an additional statement.
As for Exotic, it's unknown (yet) if he's rattled by the fact his former zoo will be controlled by Baskin. He told Variety in April he's "done with the Carole Baskin saga." Instead, he has been focusing his efforts on getting a pardon from President Trump.
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