Joe Exotic may be one of the most popular names (and future-Halloween costumes) of 2020, but right now, he’s surely not a happy camper. Carole Baskin now owns Joe Exotic’s zoo, in one of the most hilarious twists since Tiger King fascinated (and horrified) the world at large. The personal and legal battle between Baskin and Exotic — whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage — was the subject of the hit Netflix docuseries, and it seems their feud is still as vicious as ever.
On Monday, June 1, Baskin’s company Big Cat Rescue was reportedly awarded control of Exotic’s former zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, as reported by Courthouse News. The ruling stems from the trademark infringement case Baskin brought against Exotic in the documentary. Originally, Exotic was ordered to pay Baskin $1 million for trademark infringement in 2014, which never came to fruition due to legal maneuvering and other tactics, some of which is detailed in Tiger King.
Six years later, it seems that Baskin was able to prove that his zoo was fraudulently transferred to Exotic’s mother and his former business partner (now enemy) Jeff Lowe in an attempt to avoid the payment. As a result, U.S. District Judge Scott L. Palk ruled that Baskin will gain control of the land as a way to satisfy the $1 million judgment.
The ruling comes just weeks after Lowe reopened the zoo, following the CDC’s social distancing guidelines, under the new moniker Tiger King Park. Now, Lowe has 120 days to vacate the land, including all of the animals who live on it.
However, Lowe and his wife Lauren don’t seem to be too defeated with the loss of valuable property. "We have long anticipated that the judge would eventually undo the 2016 land transfer," he told TMZ. "We are thankful that he dragged out his decision this long and allowed us time to complete the new Tiger King Park in Thackerville, Oklahoma, behind the world’s largest casino."
However, he couldn’t resist getting in a few digs at Baskin before conceding. "Considering [Carole] spent approximately $2.5M chasing her $1M judgment, we congratulate her on her new acquisition of 16 acres in rural Oklahoma," he said. "The possibility of human remains being buried on this land should make her feel right at home."
Exotic is currently serving a 22-year sentence in prison after he was convicted of multiple charges, including two counts of murder-for-hire in attempts to kill Baskin, eight violations of the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records, and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act. Neither him nor Baskin have commented on the new development, but it’s safe to say that Exotic’s former zoo won’t be his first stop when he’s freed.
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