Carole Baskin Awarded Control Of Joe Exotic's Zoo

David Moye

Carole Baskin could have a lot more cool cats and kittens in her possession now that a judge has awarded her control of Joe Exotic’s zoo.

On Monday, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled in favor of Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue Corp. in her trademark and copyright infringement lawsuit against the Greater Wynnewood Development Group, a company once owned by the self-proclaimed “Tiger King,” according to CNN.

The order, which caps a longstanding struggle depicted in the popular Netflix documentary series “Tiger King,” gives Baskin control of about 16 acres in Garvin County, Oklahoma, used for an animal park and its array of big cats.

The order requires Greater Wynnewood Development Group to “vacate the Zoo Land premises within 120 days of service of this Order.” It adds: “Vacation of premises shall also require removal of all zoo animals from the Zoo Land.” 

The order does not specify what should happen to the animals, The Associated Press reported.

Baskin sued Exotic (real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage) for the infringements and won a $1 million civil judgment against him. Monday’s ruling determined that ownership of the zoo was fraudulently transferred to Maldonado-Passage’s mother in an attempt to avoid paying the judgment and awarded the property to Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue.

A lawyer representing Jeff Lowe, the park’s current owner, told CNN the judgment was not unexpected. Lowe will not challenge the ruling, he said.

Instead, Lowe is planning to open a new Tiger King Park in Thackerville, Oklahoma, by the end of the year.

Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, hailed the judge’s decision.

“It is justice for Carole Baskin and accredited sanctuaries that put animal welfare first,” Block said in a statement. “The Humane Society of the United States urges that the animals at GW be transferred to proper sanctuaries so that they will never suffer again at the hands of unqualified hucksters like Jeff Lowe and Joe Exotic who kept and exploited these abused animals in substandard filthy conditions.” 

Maldonado-Passage, currently serving a 22-year federal prison term for killing five tigers and plotting the unsuccessful contract murder of Baskin, had a different reaction on Tuesday morning, according to a tweet sent from his Twitter account.

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