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Judge gives control of Joe Exotic’s zoo to Carole Baskin

UPDATED: Tue., June 2, 2020

This undated  photo provided by the Santa Rose County Jail in Milton, Fla., shows Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic. (associated press)
This undated photo provided by the Santa Rose County Jail in Milton, Fla., shows Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic. (associated press)
Associated Press

WYNNEWOOD, Okla. – A federal judge in Oklahoma has awarded ownership of the zoo made famous in Netflix’s “Tiger King” docuseries to Joe Exotic’s chief rival.

In a ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Scott Palk granted control of the Oklahoma zoo that was previously run by Joseph Maldonado-Passage – also known as Joe Exotic – to Big Cat Rescue Corp.

The Florida group was founded by Carole Baskin, who also featured prominently in the hit Netflix series. Maldonado-Passage is currently serving a 22-year federal prison term for killing five tigers and plotting to have Baskin killed.

Baskin previously sued Maldonado-Passage for trademark and copyright infringements and won a $1 million civil judgment against him. Palk’s judgment Monday found that ownership of the zoo was fraudulently transferred to Maldonado-Passage’s mother in an attempt to avoid paying the judgment.

The decision said the zoo animals must be removed from the property within 120 days but it does not detail what should happen to them.

Attorneys representing Big Cat Rescue Corp. did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Maldonado-Passage remains incarcerated in Fort Worth, Texas. In a handwritten letter posted Monday on Twitter, he repeated his plea for a presidential pardon.

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