In a development that will surely make Joe Exotic apoplectic when he learns of it in prison, Carole Baskin has been awarded the zoo that was the central focus of the
freak show Netflix series Tiger King.
That became official on Monday after a judge ruled in favor of Big Cat Rescue Corporation (which is owned by Baskin) during their lawsuit against Greater Wynnewood Development Group, LLC (which was owned by Exotic prior to his spectacular downfall).
What that means, according to CNN, is that Baskin will now have ownership of the park, which sits on roughly 16 acres of land in Oklahoma's Garvin County,
The GWDC has been ordered to vacate the premises "within 120 days of service of this order." That will also include removing zoo animals from said premises. This may sound like an enormous headache, especially to anyone who's tried to find a home for kittens/puppies/other benign animals that won't eat you, but the current owner has a plan for that (just read on).
On top of getting the land, Baskin has also been awarded "several cabins and vehicles."
Baskin and Joe Exotic's feud was the biggest storyline of the viral Netflix hit. For those who don't know (nobody, but should probably still write this for narrative cohesion) Baskin owns her own sanctuary in Florida. For years she had a back and forth with Joe Exotic that A) turned into a legal battle, and B) ended up with Joe getting a 22-year prison sentence after he was convicted for a murder for hire plot that targeted Baskin.
Joe contended that Carole was trying to destroy him through an internet smear campaign, whereas Baskin was actively highlighting instances where Joe abused animals and used tigers for profit.
Dating back to 2011, Baskin was awarded a $1 million judgement after winning a trademark infringement case against Joe. Five years later, in 2016, she complained he had illegally transferred his property to his mother to avoid paying creditors. A judge ruled that was indeed correct, and this most recent order forces the land to be given to Baskin.
As for the park's current owner Jeff Lowe, an attorney who spoke to CNN claimed the judge's move was not shocking.
"We anticipated Carole Baskin getting the title to the former park that once belonged to Joe Exotic, and we did not challenge her attempts to do so," that attorney said. "All of Jeff's focus is on opening the new Tiger King Park in Thackerville, (Oklahoma) which should be opening in the next 120 days."
A TMZ story published on Wednesday shows an unconcerned Lowe saying the court win is basically hollow since the property is pretty much just an empty lot at this point. As for the animals, those are going with him to his new zoo. He says he and his wife didn't even care about the judge's ruling (and that Baskin deserved the land anyway) and they had even tried to rid themselves of the land by donating it to "the Indian Nation" because a Native American child's skeleton was found on the property.
More details weren't divulged because the Lowes have a reality show in the works. If you're still interested in this whole saga (very possible) maybe you'll find out what the hell all that means if/when that reality show airs.
Now, as we said above, Baskin and Joe's ongoing quarrel was the main focus of the series. But a smaller and very seized upon (for obvious reasons) storyline that got crazy attention was the inference that Baskin killed her ex-husband, Don Lewis, and fed him to her tigers. This seems like an obligatory time to point out that she's denied that.
According to another story from TMZ (damn, Tiger King still going strong) a sheriff in the county that Baskin resides in, Hillsborough County, revealed an update on the Lewis case. Specifically that sheriff, Chad Chronister, stated that Lewis' will was forged. To reach that conclusion, Chronister said two experts looked at the document and both reached the same conclusion. He states his department already knew that (it's just that it's now being revealed publicly) and that they're following up on new leads.
TMZ put into perspective why this is important by nicely summarizing a point that was brought up in the docu-series. Basically, the will had a clause that said everything would go to Carole in the event of a disappearance. Though we're not estate planning experts, that's apparently something that is extremely abnormal.
TMZ goes on to say that, even if Baskin did it (I should stress that's a big ass if), it doesn't look like anything can be done about it at this point. That makes it all the more appropriate that O.J. Simpson commented on that. Anyway, freak show was crossed out at the top but that was just, you know, trying to be nice.