The saga of Netflix’s Tiger King continues. Yesterday, a federal judge handed over control of Joe Exotic’s Oklahoma zoo to his nemesis Carole Baskin, saying he fraudulently transferred the property to his mother in 2011 to keep it away from creditors.
If you haven’t watched the documentary series, Tiger King is mostly about the terrible people who trade in big cats and the beef between Joe Exotic, the self-described “gay, gun-toting cowboy with a mullet” and Carole Baskin, the owner of the Big Cat Rescue facility in Florida who fashions herself as an animal rights activist. Exotic was sentenced to 22 years in prison in January after he was found guilty of animal abuse and trying to hire someone to murder Baskin.
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During their years-long feud, Baskin sued Exotic — whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage — for trademark and copyright infringement after he made and used logos and images that deliberately aped that of Big Cat Rescue. In 2013, Exotic was then ordered to pay her $US1 ($1.5) million. The suit itself was covered in the Tiger King series, as it eventually led to Exotic’s downfall.
The ruling, initially reported by the Courthouse News, notes that Exotic’s mother, Shirley Schreibvogel had knowingly admitted the zoo had been transferred to her and rival Jeff Lowe in a bid to keep it from Baskin and Exotic’s creditors. As part of the ruling, the court has ordered the zoo’s current tenant has 120 days to vacate the premises and take all the remaining animals with them.
Lowe, who also featured in the docuseries, doesn’t seem too beat up about the ruling. “We have long anticipated that the judge would eventually undo the 2016 land transfer,” Lowe told gossip site 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.” Lowe went on to congratulate Baskin, though not before commenting that the “possibility of human remains being buried on this land should make her feel right at home.” The dig is a reference to Exotic’s allegations that Baskin fed an ex-husband to her tigers in the late 90s. (And if you never watch Tiger King, you can get the whole gist of the beef from Exotic’s original country song “Here Kitty, Kitty,” which has also has a meme-worthy music video featuring a Baskin lookalike.)
The Tiger King docuseries premiered approximately 10,000 years ago in March, and was a runaway hit for Netflix, drawing over 34.3 million U.S. viewers in its first 10 days of release. It launched several memes and even rapper Cardi B took to Twitter to say she wanted to help Exotic be freed from prison. More recently, it’s been reported that Nicolas Cage will star as Joe Exotic in a scripted TV series. As for Exotic himself, headlines claimed he had contracted the novel coronavirus in prison after news broke he was transferred to the Federal Medical Centre in Fort Worth, Texas. However, according to Snopes, Exotic was merely placed in a 14-day quarantine and has not tested positive for the virus.