Carole Baskin Granted Control of Joe Exotic's Former Zoo as Jeff Lowe Has 120 Days to Vacate Property
Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka "Joe Exotic," was found guilty last year of paying a hitman $3,000 to kill the Big Cat Rescue founder
The G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, has been under the control of Jeff Lowe in recent years, but is now being handed over to Baskin — the very woman whom Joe was convicted of plotting to kill.
Baskin and her Big Cat Rescue corporation have been granted control of the Oklahoma zoo property by a judge who found that the property was fraudulently transferred to Maldonado-Passage's mother years ago, Fox 25 reported Monday.
Lowe has 120 days to vacate the premises — including all of his animals currently residing there, according to a copy of the ruling published by the Courthouse News Service.
A rep for Lowe, a rep for Big Cat Rescue and Maldonado-Passage's public defender did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment.
The ruling Monday marks yet another twist in the complicated world of big cats kept in the United States captured in the Netflix docuseries Tiger King.
Director Eric Goode told Entertainment Weekly in March that the zoo under Lowe's leadership was still open, but "basically operating on fumes."
"No one is going now and there’s no source of income, and that's been going on for a long time," Goode said. "It's not something that has just happened because of what's happening in the world today."
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In a complaint filed in February 2016, Big Cat Rescue sued Maldonado-Passage's mother, Shirley M. Schreibvogel, alleging that the transfer of the Oklahoma zoo was fraudulent.
"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 said, according to the Courthouse News Service.
Schreibvogel allegedly admitted in 2015 that "the zoo land was fraudulently transferred to her by Joe Maldonado in 2011 to avoid his creditors," according to the outlet.
Maldonado-Passage previously lost a lawsuit for trademark and copyright infringements, and a $1-million civil judgment against him was awarded to Baskin.
Maldonado-Passage is currently in a Dallas-Fort Worth medical center after he was exposed to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Fox 25 reported.
He was sentenced to 22 years in prison when he was found guilty in 2019 for paying a hitman $3,000 to kill Baskin. He was also found guilty on multiple charges of violating both the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records, and the Endangered Species Act. The disgraced zookeeper filed a lawsuit in March against various government agencies, as well as a former business partner, seeking $94 million in damages.
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is now available to stream on Netflix.