Knowledge & News

Baskin in glory: the Tiger King loses zoo to rival in trade mark battle

4 June 2020

In yet another wild twist in the tales of the Tiger King, ownership of the zoo at the centre of the viral Netflix success has been transferred to Joe Exotic’s nemesis: Carole Baskin.

We previously wrote here about the decade-long battle between animal rights activist Baskin and the self-professed ‘Tiger King’ Joe Exotic and his collection of 200 big cats. After years of catfights, a trade mark dispute eventually led to the Tiger King being dethroned: Baskin and her husband, who own animal sanctuary Big Cat Rescue (‘BCR’), sued Exotic for trade mark infringement after he renamed his traveling animal show to Big Cat Rescue Entertainment.

The court ruled in the Baskins’ favour, and Exotic (real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage) was ordered to pay the couple over $1 million (US dollars) in damages.

Subsequently, Exotic transferred the ownership of G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Park in Oklahoma to his mother, and to his former associate Jeff Lowe, who also features prominently in the Netflix documentary series. Baskin then brought a claim against Exotic’s mother, claiming the transfer of ownership was an illegal attempt by the Tiger King to avoid handing over his assets. Baskin alleged that Exotic’s mother had admitted under oath that the zoo land had been transferred to her to ‘remove it from the reach of creditors, including BCR’.

Mr. Lowe has now been ordered to vacate the zoo, and take all 120 animals currently residing there with him. He plans to open the ‘world’s largest casino’, Tiger King World, in the near future.

This outcome again serves as a reminder of the value of trade marks, which can be incredibly effective in protecting your brand and reputation – as well as enforcing those rights against any infringing third parties.

With Exotic currently serving a prison sentence of 22 years for animal abuses and a murder-for-hire plot against Baskin, and this latest development involving the zoo’s ownership, perhaps it is now time to start bowing down to the Tiger Queen instead?


Jack Kenny

Jack Kenny Associate Manchester (UK) Chartered (UK) and European Trade Mark Attorney

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