Law in Popular Culture

Judge awards the zoo in Netflix's 'Tiger King' to Joe Exotic's rival

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Tiger King Netflix photo

Joe Exotic in Netflix’s Tiger King. Photo from Netflix.

A federal judge in Oklahoma awarded Monday the zoo made famous in Netflix’s Tiger King to the Big Cat Rescue Corp., founded by Joe Exotic’s rival, Carole Baskin.

U.S. District Judge Scott Palk transferred ownership of the Oklahoma zoo to the Tampa, Florida-based Big Cat Rescue to satisfy a $1 million trademark judgment, report the Associated Press, the Tampa Bay Times, the Hollywood Reporter and Courthouse News Service.

The trademark case alleged that Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as “Joe Exotic,” used logos and images similar to those used by Big Cat Rescue.

Palk said Maldonado-Passage had transferred the zoo property to his mother to keep the zoo away from Maldonado-Passage’s creditors. Big Cat Rescue will receive the zoo, as well as cars and cabins on the property.

Maldonado-Passage is in prison for paying a hit man to kill Baskin and for shooting five tigers at the zoo. Palk had sentenced him to 22 years in prison.

Palk’s decision requires the current zoo operators to remove the animals and turn over the property within 120 days. Baskin told the Tampa Bay Times in a statement that the zoo operator has plans to remove the animals to another, better location.

“If the need arises to make other plans to place the animals in new homes, Big Cat Rescue and the animal welfare organizations that have previously successfully placed big cats from large facilities in new homes stand ready to assist,” Baskin said.

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