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In Twist of ‘Tiger King’ Fate, Carole Baskin Is Taking Over Joe Exotic’s Zoo


Hey all you cool cats and kittens, you’re not going to believe this one. A federal judge in Oklahoma just said that Carole Baskin (yes, that Carole Baskin) gets the zoo that was once owned by Tiger King’s Joseph Maldonado-Passage (a.k.a. “Joe Exotic“).

Joe himself is currently in prison for abusing tigers and attempting to stage a murder-for-hire plot against Baskin; he failed to show up in court to defend a civil lawsuit filed by Baskin. Joe wasn’t the named defendant in that lawsuit. Shirley Schreibvogel, Joe’s deceased mom, was the person against whom Exotic’s big cat rival proceeded. Jeff Lowe has been operating the zoo.

After any Schreibvogel representatives were no-shows in court, the judge awarded a default judgment to Baskin, and held a corresponding hearing on damages.  As a result, Monday’s order reflects just how Baskin’s winning judgment is to be paid.

U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma Scott Palk ruled that Shirley Schreibvogel acted in concert with her son to effectuate a “fraudulent transfer” – a transfer of assets made to evade creditors.

“The design and intent of removing the real and personal property,” wrote Judge Palk, was to keep the assets “from the reach of Big Cat Rescue so that it could not be used to satisfy Big Cat Rescue’s judgments” against Joe Exotic and his zoo.

Now, 16 acres of land located in Garvin County, Oklahoma, known as the “Zoo Land” will be the property of one very happy Carole Baskin. Baskin was also awarded any vehicles or portable buildings on the property. As is typical in such cases, the Oklahoma court created a “constructive trust” to hold the Zoo Land. The Greater Wynnewood Development Group, along with any animals, are ordered to vacate the premises within 120 days; the zoo, the “Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park” is ordered to pay $4,166 per month in rent until the land is cleared. The zoo must also maintain an insurance policy naming Big Cat Rescue (Baskin’s organization) as an insured – just in case anything accidentally happens to the property before Baskin takes over.

Big Cat Rescue did request attorneys fees in the case, but the court declined to award them, saying the zoo land, vehicles, and structures should be enough to compensate Baskin.

You can read the judge’s full order here.

Big Cat Rescue ruling in fe… by Law&Crime on Scribd

[screengrab via Carole Baskin]

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos