A federal judge in Oklahoma handed a victory to the “Tiger King’s” foe, Carole Baskin, awarding Baskin control of Joe “Joe Exotic” Maldonado-Passage’s former tiger park in Garvin County, Oklahoma, though she did not win ownership of Joe Exotic’s remaining big cats.
Maldonado-Passage is serving a 22-year sentence in federal prison for allegedly concocting and then paying for a failed murder-for-hire plot against Baskin as well as his mistreatment of around a dozen tigers.
Baskin won a million-dollar trademark lawsuit against Maldonado-Passage and his mother back in 2016 but had yet to collect on the judgement, TMZ reports. Sometime later that year, Baskin filed a second suit against Greater Wynnewood Development Group, LLC (GWDC), the company that now owns the zoo, alleging that a land transfer between Maldonado-Passage, his mother, and Jeff Lowe, the head of GWDC (also featured in Netflix’s hit “Tiger King” series) was fraudulent.
Monday, a federal judge agreed with Baskin and awarded her the 16-acre property as well as “several cabins and vehicles,” according to CNN.
GWDC must “vacate the Zoo Land premises within 120 days of service of this Order …Vacation of premises shall also require removal of all zoo animals from the Zoo Land,” according to the judge’s order.
The feud between Baskin and Maldonado-Passage was at the center of the “Tiger King” series, which followed Maldonado-Passage’s crusade against Baskin, who owns her own big cat “sanctuary” in Florida. Maldonado-Passage accused Baskin of “trying to destroy his business with an online smear campaign in videos she posted to her YouTube page and social media channels,” CNN says, and even alleged, at one point, that Baskin killed her first husband by feeding him to her tigers.
The latter issue is actually unresolved. After “Tiger King” aired, Florida police reopened a cold case file on Baskin’s long-missing first husband to investigate whether the Netflix documentary uncovered any additional clues on his whereabouts, according to Yahoo News.
An attorney for Lowe and GWDC told CNN that, “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. 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.”
Presumably, the animals living at GWDC will move to the new “Tiger King” park.
Lowe himself was much harsher, telling TMZ that, “Considering [Carole] spent approximately 2.5M chasing her 1M judgment, we congratulate her on her new acquisition of 16 acres in rural Oklahoma.”
“The possibility of human remains being buried on this land should make her feel right at home,” he added.
Maldonado-Passage remains in prison in Oklahoma. He is appealing his conviction and recently petitioned President Donald Trump for a pardon.
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