Garvin County, Oklahoma sheriff's deputies went to the zoo once owned by Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness subject Joseph Maldonado-Passage after two cadaver dogs smelled something their trainer believed may be human remains. Law enforcement sources later told TMZ the remains were of a small animal with a tail. The case is closed and authorities left the zoo late Friday. The dogs were brought there while Ghost Adventures star Zak Bagans worked on a new episode of the series, TMZ reports. Jeff Lowe now owns the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, but a federal judge gave ownership of the park to Carol Baskin in May.
The dogs reportedly picked up the scent in the alligator pit. The local sheriff's deputies were called to the zoo Friday. Sources close to Maldonado-Passage, who is better known as Joe Exotic, told TMZ the ashes of four people are buried at the zoo. They chose to make the zoo their final resting places. The sources did not reveal the identity of the people the ashes belonged to.
In late May, U.S. District Judge Scott L. Palk awarded Baskin ownership of the property and ordered Lower to leave within 120 days and must remove the animals from the property. The judge found that Exotic fraudulently transferred the property in the past to avoid paying a $1 million trademark judgment. The zoo is also at the center of an Oklahoma state investigation into animal welfare after PERA released video of the shocking conditions the animals are living in.
Last year, Exotic was convicted on 17 federal charges related to animal abuse and two counts of murder for hire. Prosecutors said he attempted to hire a hitman to kill Baskin. He is now serving a 22-year prison sentence. Podcaster Josh Belcher read a letter Exotic wrote from prison, asking President Donald Trump to pardon him.
In the letter, published by Entertainment Tonight, Exotic said "wrong has been done" in his case and he hoped Trump "will... make this right and grant me a pardon." Exotic claimed "two Assistant U.S. Attorneys, two FBI agents and a federal wildlife agent all conspired to commit perjury" in evidence his jury did not see. He also said he was abused in prison. "I have scars from the skin coming off of my arms from being strapped in a chair so tight and so long just for demanding answers," Exotic wrote.
Baskin and Exotic's rivalry was at the center of Netflix's Tiger King documentary series, which debuted in March. The show was a massive hit during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, earning over 34 million viewers in the first 10 days of its release. Baskin has also found herself at the center of a controversy, as there remain questions about her alleged involvement with her second husband, Don Lewis' disappearance.