The last time we saw Joseph Maldonado-Passage aka Joe Exotic aka the ‘Tiger King’, the mullet-wielding, polyamory-propagating, guitar strumming zoo owner was locked up far away from his lavish former life as the lord of the crazy cat lovers. But turns out, he’s about to lose a lot more than his cool. A court in Oklahoma, USA has ruled that the zoo owned by Exotic—the one that played a huge role in providing a pretty backdrop for the Netflix docuseries Tiger King— now belongs to his sworn enemy: “that bitch” Carole Baskin.
Amidst a colourful cast of characters wilder and more untameable than the lions and tigers they trained, Exotic emerged as the extremely entertaining anti-hero through the popular Netflix show. He may be behind bars after getting arrested for allegedly paying a hit man $3,000 to kill Baskin, but it hasn’t deterred his fans from making savage-tune TikTok videos that accuse Baskin of killing her husband and feeding him to tigers.
This deadly rivalry between Baskin and Exotic led to the latter renaming his company ‘Big Cat Rescue’ and even copying the logo of Baskin’s animal rescue operation to get back at her for claiming he abused his animals, including the humans who cared for them. But while Exotic was stupid enough to endanger his resources by engaging in trademark infringement, he was also shrewd enough to transfer ownership of his zoo property to his mom. He may have evaded the $1 million dollar payout the court ordered him to make to Baskin in 2016, but turns out he’s now paying a heavier price by forfeiting his main claim to internet fame. After Baskin went after Exotic’s mother on charges of fraudulent property transfer to evade paying creditors, a federal judge in Oklahoma city finally awarded her Exotic’s roadside attraction.
Meanwhile, hot nanny enthusiast and the current owner of Greater Wynnewood (GW) Exotic Animal Park, Jeff Lowe, claims he was already prepared to lose out on the infamous wildlife park, and said he had shifted his focus on opening a new Tiger King Park in Thackerville, Oklahoma, which his attorney said should be opening in the next 120 days. It’s still unclear what will happen to the 200-odd animals born and bred at the GW zoo, since the judgment that transfers ownership only applies to the 54-acre property. Under state and federal law, the animals will be considered Lowe’s property. But if Lowe chooses to dump them faster than he dumped his first wife, here’s hoping that Baskin’s big cat energy will make her more empathetic towards the animals than Exotic sympathisers claim she was to her ex-husband.
So if you come across a video of Baskin saying, “Hey all you cool cats and kittens, Joe Exotic just got owned”, let that be a gentle reminder that revenge can be truly savage.
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