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Carole Baskin Has Been Awarded 'Tiger King' Joe Exotic's Former Zoo
A judge has awarded Big Cat Rescue CEO Carole Baskin control over Joe Exotic's former G.W. Zoo, as a result of a prior copyright lawsuit she won against him during their infamous years-long feud.
An Oklahoma federal judge ruled in favor of Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue Corporation on Monday, stating that the current residents of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park (G.W. Zoo) must “vacate the Zoo Land premises within 120 days of service of this Order,” an order provided to Oxygen.com states. In turn, Baskin will be given control of the 16-acre zoo. The ruling is the result of a $1 million trademark lawsuit that Baskin previously won against Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage.
The ruling also found that the property was fraudulently transferred to Joe Exotic's mother Shirley Schreibvogel years back.
“Schreibvogel later admitted under oath that the zoo land was transferred to her by Joe Maldonado to remove it from the reach of creditors, including BCR [Big Cat Rescue], should BCR win its Florida lawsuit,” a complaint states. “Schreibvogel also admitted in 2015, via a confession of judgment she entered into to resolve a lawsuit filed against he by the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee overseeing Joe Maldonado’s personal bankruptcy estate, that the zoo land was fraudulently transferred to her by Joe Maldonado in 2011 to avoid his creditors.”
The zoo vacation order means that Jeff Lowe, who currently runs the zoo, along with all zoo animals must be removed from the land by the 120 day mark.
“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,” Baskin noted in a statement provided to Oxygen.com. “He recently stated that he had funds to complete the zoo and a contractor who could complete it in a few months."
She added that if other plans are needed for those animals, Big Cat Rescue is “ready to assist.”
Baskin said no further comments will be made at this time. The G.W. Zoo has not immediately returned Oxygen.com’s request for comment. A statement from Lowe's law team, obtained by CNN, states, “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.”
Exotic is currently serving 22 years behind bars after he was found guilty last year of hiring a hitman to kill Baskin. Before his arrest, the two were engaged in a years-long feud.
As part of that feud, Exotic retaliated against Baskin’s attempts to halt his cub-petting operation by changing the name of his company to Big Cat Rescue Entertainment, mimicking both Baskin’s sanctuary and logo. Baskin took Exotic to court in 2011 for copying her logo, which is how she won the $1 million lawsuit that led to her awardance of the zoo. Even with that legal victory, she continued her efforts to shut down his operation, as shown in the docuseries. She long contended the the G.W. Zoo was the setting for multiple incidents of animal abuse. As Exotic was convicted of concocting an attempt to take Baskin’s life, he was also convicted of animal abuse charges for killing several tigers on his property.
Currently, the Garvin County Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, US Fish and Game, and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife are probing the G.W. Exotic Animal Park in response to allegations of animal neglect, according to a June 25 press release from the Garvin County Sheriff’s Department.