A judge for the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma ruled Monday that Greater Wynnewood Animal Park be given to Big Cat Rescue, owned by Carole Baskin.
Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic, formerly owned the animal park before fraudulently transferring title to his mother and Greater Wynnewood Development Group, LLC (GWDG). The park is currently under the management of Jeff Lowe, Joe Exotic’s friend-turned-nemesis.
Baskin and Joe Exotic have a well-documented rivalry, both online and in the popular Netflix “Tiger King” documentary. Baskin has repeatedly accused Joe Exotic of animal abuse in his former zoo, particularly the abuse of tigers and lions. Currently, Joe Exotic is serving prison time for allegedly hiring a hit man to kill Baskin.
In 2011 Baskin won a suit against Joe Exotic for trademark infringement, and the court ordered him to pay $1 million. In this current lawsuit, Baskin alleged, and the court found, that Joe Exotic fraudulently transferred title to avoid paying back creditors.
Additionally, the court noted that GWDG did not respond to an order to retain new counsel after its previous counsel withdrew and did not respond to an order to show-case after Baskin filed a motion for default judgment. Thus, the court entered the default judgment against GWDG.
Lowe and his staff have 120 days to vacate the Greater Wynnewood Animal Park premises and to remove all zoo animals. Lowe commented on the animal park’s website that he “anticipated Carole Baskin gaining title” and will be opening another animal park in Oklahoma this September.