Just six weeks after a federal judge ordered him to pay a Florida animal sanctuary nearly $1 million to settle a trademark infringement lawsuit, a Wynnewood man who goes by the name Joe Exotic has filed for bankruptcy protection.
Joe Schreibvogel, who also goes by the names Aarron Alex and Cody Ryan, lists debts totaling $1.2 million, most of which are traceable to the judgment handed down in February by a judge in Florida.
Schreibvogel, who operated what is now the G.W. Zoo in Wynnewood from the late 1990s until February, in court records lists assets of $127,739. Roughly half of that total is in the form of vehicles used to run the animal park.
Schreibvogel lists 43 tigers and five black bears as personal property. Records show the carnivores are worth an “unknown” sum of money.
Schreibvogel also owes more than $30,000 to attorneys who worked on the trademark infringement case, records show.
An affidavit signed by Schreibvogel and filed in federal court states he “became unemployed on Feb. 26, 2013, and I am not receiving any monthly income.”
During a recent interview with The Oklahoman, Schreibvogel said he would file for bankruptcy protection because he didn't have the roughly $1 million the judge in Florida ordered him to pay the owners of Big Cat Rescue.
Schreibvogel and Big Cat Rescue founder Carole Baskin have been publicly feuding for years over their philosophical differences on the exotic pet trade.
The suit involved Schreibvogel's use of logos and images that were similar to those created and owned by the Florida animal park.
In the suit, attorneys for Big Cat Rescue alleged Schreibvogel and his associates launched a “counter-campaign of disinformation, misinformation and disparagement” aimed at damaging the credibility of the Florida organization.
The sanctuary's lawyers claimed Schreibvogel used a logo and other artistic elements “confusingly similar” to materials trademarked by Big Cat Rescue.
Schreibvogel admits he did model a logo for Big Cat Rescue Entertainment — one of the many businesses he's formed over the years — after the Florida sanctuary's design, but said he didn't realize it was wrong to do so.
“We thought we were in the clear,” he said. “We thought they only owned ‘Big Cat Rescue' with a cat jumping over it.”
Schreibvogel, known for performing magic shows and bringing tiger cubs to shopping malls for paid photographs with the public, said a new company is running the G.W. Zoo. He said he will continue to house his animals at the facility, just off Interstate 35 in Wynnewood.
“They're my animals ... I'm still licensed to exhibit,” he said. “By law, I do not have to be a (business) to exhibit.”