Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Scott L. Palk ruled in favor of Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue Corporation in a 2016 lawsuit against the Greater Wynnewood Development Group, LLC (GWDG), which was previously owned by Exotic. In the lawsuit, big-cat rights activist Baskin claimed that Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, fraudulently transferred the ownership of the zoo to his mother Shirley Schreibvogel in a bid to evade creditors.
On Monday, Palk ordered that the property be turned over to Baskin, giving her control of the said 16-acre land situated in Garvin County, Oklahoma, as well as several cabins and vehicles. The judgment also stated that GWDG must vacate the zoo land premises and remove all animals from the park within 120 days.
In a statement posted on its website on Tuesday, Big Cat Rescue said that if GWDG’s current owner Jeff Lowe is unable to move and 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.”
An attorney for Lowe, whom Maldonado-Passage gave “ownership” of the zoo in 2016 in an effort to ward off Baskin’s lawsuits, told CNN that the judgment was expected.
“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,” Walter Mosley said Monday. “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.”
Directed by Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, Tiger King chronicles the long-running feud between Baskin and Maldanado-Passage. As told in the series, Baskin claimed that Maldanado-Passage’s breeding programs, zoo, and practice of charging visitors to pet lion or tiger cubs were abusive to the big cats. With a personal mission to end private big-cat ownership in general, Baskin tried to have Maldanado-Passage’s animal park closed. In turn, Maldanado-Passage alleged that animals at Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue were not being taken care of and that Baskin was deliberately damaging his sources of income by discouraging potential clients.
The friction between the two reached its climax when Maldanado-Passage paid zoo handyman Allen Glover $3,000 to kill Baskin, resulting in Maldanado-Passage’s arrest and later conviction. Maldanado-Passage was arrested in 2018 and found guilty of 19 counts, including attempted murder for hire, killing five tigers, and the selling of lion and tiger cubs. In January, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison.