Zookeeper accused of targeting big cat rescue group in plot

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The operator of a Florida-based animal sanctuary says she was the target of an Oklahoma zookeeper who was indicted last week on federal murder-for-hire charges.

Carole Baskin, who runs Big Cat Rescue, says she’s clashed in the past with Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who goes by the nickname “Joe Exotic.”

Baskin told The Oklahoman that Maldonado-Passage had posted videos threatening her, including one in which he shot an effigy of her in the head. She says her sanctuary has won a $1 million in civil judgments over trademark and copyright infringements against Maldonado-Passage, who once operated a zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma.

Maldonado-Passage, who remains jailed in Florida, also ran unsuccessfully for Oklahoma governor as a Libertarian this year. He didn’t reply to an email seeking comment and court records don’t list an attorney for him.

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