'Tiger King': Joe Exotic Loses Zoo to Carole Baskin in Court Ruling

Courtesy of Netflix
Joe Exotic in Netflix's 'Tiger King'

Baskin's Big Cat Rescue was given control of the zoo in Oklahoma on Monday in lieu of payment of a $1 million trademark judgment.

Joe Exotic is back in the news after a federal judge ruled that the jailed star of Netflix docuseries Tiger King has to hand over his zoo properties to his archnemesis Carole Baskin as part of a $1 million trademark judgment. 

Courthouse News reports that Baskin's Big Cat Rescue convinced a U.S. District judge in Oklahoma City that Exotic (real name Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage) fraudulently transferred the zoo properties to his mother, Shirley M. Schreibvogel, in 2011 in order to keep the properties out of the reach of creditors if he lost his long-running legal battles with the Florida-based animal sanctuary.

In 2013, Exotic was ordered to pay Big Cat Rescue nearly $1 million to resolve a then-2-year-old trademark-infringement lawsuit. The suit, which was featured in the Netflix docuseries, involved Exotic's use of logos and images that were very similar to those created and owned by Big Cat Rescue. 

Big Cat Rescue sued Exotic's mother in 2016 over the property transfer.

“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, should BCR win its Florida lawsuit,” the complaint stated. “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.”

As part of the judgment, Big Cat Rescue was also awarded control of several cars and cabins on the property, with the judge ordering the current zoo operator to leave within 120 days and remove all animals on the property.

Exotic, who ran for governor of Oklahoma as a libertarian candidate in 2018, is currently serving 22 years in federal prison after being convicted in 2019 of trying to hire a hitman to kill Baskin as well as falsifying animal records and violating the Endangered Species Act.

Released earlier this year, Tiger King, which primarily captured Exotic's long-running feud with Baskin, became a global phenomenon and led to other planned TV and film adaptations of the story.