‘Tiger King’: Why the Carole Baskin Ruling Is Devastating For the Animals at Joe Exotic’s Zoo

In a court ruling on June 1, 2020, Carole Baskin gained control of the Tiger King Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka Joe Exotic, is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for attempting to hire a hitman to kill Baskin. Many fans are worried about what will happen to the animals still at the zoo after this ruling. 

'Tiger King's Carole Baskin
‘Tiger King’s Carole Baskin | Netflix

‘Tiger King’: How did Carole Baskin take over Joe Exotic’s Zoo?

In the Netflix docuseries, viewers watched Baskin file a lawsuit against Maldonado-Passage for trademark infringement. The zoo owner intentionally designed his website to look like Baskins so that he could steal traffic from her site. 

Before the judge could rule on the lawsuit, Maldonado-Passage transferred ownership of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park to his mother. He knew this would keep Baskin from taking the zoo as payment for the lawsuit. 

On June 1, 2020, a federal judge in Oklahoma City ruled that the transfer was “fraudulent,” according to CNN. He awarded the entire facility and all of the buildings and vehicles to Baskin to pay her the $1 million Maldonado-Passage owes her. 

‘Tiger King’: What will happen to the zoo animals when Carole Baskin takes over?

Baskin spoke out after Tiger King aired to explain that her Big Cat Sanctuary is very different from the G.W. Zoo.  She felt the Netflix docuseries told many lies about her.

“At the sanctuary, we take in abandoned, abused, confiscated, and orphaned cats and give them a permanent home,” Baskin wrote in a lengthy blog post refuting the allegations about her in the series. “A sanctuary does not breed, buy, sell, allow people to touch the cats, or put them through the stress of traveling offsite. It is basically a retirement home.”

It sounds like Baskin might be the best thing for the animals still at the zoo. However, the judge indicated that the Greater Wynnewood Development Group must remove all animals currently on the property, before Baskin receives it.

Fans are concerned for the well-being of the animals at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park

“Sounds like she’s just getting the land though,” one Reddit user wrote. “Jeff Lowe gets to keep all the animals, which is disappointing because he’s utter trash.”

Lowe bought the zoo from Maldonado-Passage after the latter filed for bankruptcy due to Baskin’s lawsuit. However, according to an interview with Tiger King producer, Eric Goode, the G.W. Zoo is not doing very well under Lowe’s leadership.

“I got a very long text today from Jeff Lowe, who is running Joe’s old zoo,” Goode told Entertainment Weekly. “All I can tell you is that he is 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.”

Although Lowe is building a new zoo, the Oklahoma Zoo, will not open until late summer 2020. He often shares pictures and videos on social media with the animals at the zoo. There are no reports yet about what Baskin is planning to do with the land and buildings.