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Home seven-facts 7 Facts About Joe Exotic: Zoo-Operator-Turned-Felon, Inspiration Behind Netflix Docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness

7 Facts About Joe Exotic: Zoo-Operator-Turned-Felon, Inspiration Behind Netflix Docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness

Shrijan Published On Tue Apr 21 2020   Modified On Tue Apr 21 2020
7 Facts About Joe Exotic: Zoo-Operator-Turned-Felon, Inspiration Behind Netflix Docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness

Joe Exotic is the colorful character who is the impetus behind the Netflix docuseries, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. 

Born as Joseph Allen Schreibvogel on March 5, 1963, he adopted the stage name Joe Exotic for his penchant for breeding exotic cats.  

As the title of the Netflix series suggests, Joe Exotic's life has been a smorgasbord of murder, mystery, and madness.  

Here are seven facts about the self-proclaimed "most prolific breeder of tigers in the United States", Joe Exotic:

7. The Netflix Docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, is Based on His Life

Netflix is no stranger to a true-crime series. In fact, the streaming platform is credited with the resurgence of the genre, what with such acclaimed series as Mindhunter and Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer.

But in many people's opinion, they outdid themselves with the true-crime docuseries, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.

The series premiered on March 20, 2020, and received rave reviews, if, for nothing else than for the wild antics of its central character, Joe Exotic.

The series chronicles the trials and tribulations of Exotic and provides a stunning look at the exotic wildlife trade in America. 

6. He is Homosexual and Had Numerous "Husbands"

Joe Exotic knew he was gay at a young age. His sexuality was a subject of contentment with his father, so much so that when his siblings ousted him as being gay, the blowback from his parents drove him to attempt suicide by crashing his car.

Joe survived the ordeal and went on to have relationships with multiple people, almost all of them ending badly. His first relationship was with Brian Rhyne, who died of HIV in 2001.

He was then in a relationship with his event manager, J. C. Hartpence in 2002, but amidst over-indulgent drug use and death threats, their relationship ended acrimoniously just over a year later.

Exotic also started a relationship with a hired hand at his zoo, John Finlay, in mid-2003, and in December 2013, they included Travis Maldonado in their ménage à trois. After a falling out with Finlay, Exotic officially married Travis Maldonado in 2015. Maldonado died in a freak accident involving a firearm on October 6, 2017. 

Joe Exotic and husband Dillon Passage
Joe Exotic and husband Dillon Passage
Source: E! Online

Exotic was married to Dillon Passage at the time of his incarceration. They tied the knot on December 11, 2017. 

5. Founder of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park

They don't call him Joe Exotic for nothing. He is the founder of the Garold Wayne Exotic Animal Memorial Park, which would be the foundation of what is today the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma.

He bought a 16-acre Oklahoma farmland and established the Garold Wayne Exotic Animal Memorial Park in 1999 in the namesake of his deceased brother. 

In 2000, Joe acquired his first two tigers and went on to acquire exotic species of wildlife. Despite all the other attractions, the park was most famous for its big cats. At its peak, the zoo was home to 50 animal species and 200 big cats like tigers, lions, tigons, ligers, and puma.    

Capitalizing on his growing popularity, Exotic also started a reality show streaming from his zoo and had a side-gig as a traveling sideshow act where he performed with animals from his zoo.    

4. His Acrimonious Feud with Carole Baskin

Joe Exotic's acrimonious feud with animal rights activist Carole Baskin has been the bane of his existence. Baskin is the founder of Big Cat Rescue sanctuary and was none too pleased with Exotic's treatment of the animals.

Baskin already had Exotic in her crosshairs for his poor treatment of the animals and launched online campaigns to thwart Exotic's show bookings. 

Joe Exotic and arch-nemesis Carole Baskin
Joe Exotic and arch-nemesis Carole Baskin
Source: Popbuzz

Joe, not one to sit idly by as Baskin tore his life apart, retaliated by making lewd and salacious videos attacking Baskin. 

Things boiled over when Exotic used the patented Big Cat Rescue name to ramp up his own agendas, causing Baskin to sue Exotic for copyright infringement. Exotic was forced to pay $1 million in settlement compensation.

Exotic sought to end Baskin once and for all by hiring a hitman. When the hitman turned out to be an undercover federal agent, Exotic was indicted for two counts of murder-for-hire.     

3. He is Serving a 22-Year Sentence in Federal Prison

On January 22, 2020, Exotic was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison under a litany of different charges. His list of offenses included two counts of murder-for-hire, eight violations of the Lacey Act, and nine acts of Endangered Species Act violations. 

He had come under fire from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), for Animal Welfare Act violations citing the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park for negligence and disregard of animal life.  

Joe Exotic mugshot
Joe Exotic mugshot
Source: All That's Interesting

When Exotic looked to end his arch-nemesis, Carole Baskin, by hiring a hitman, he was taken into custody on September 7, 2018, from a bar in Gulf Breeze, Florida. He stood trial in March 2019 for the laundry list of offenses and was promptly sentenced to 22 years in a Federal jail on January 22, 2020.

2. A $94 Million Lawsuit and Presidential Pardon Request from Behind Bars

The Joe Exotic saga didn't end with him being incarcerated; he refuses to go quietly. On March 17, 2020, Exotic filed a $94 million lawsuit against from his holding cell in the Oklahoma Grady County Jail. 

The lawsuit names the Department of Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service, his former business partner Jeff Lowe, and the United States federal government among the guilty party.

He also seeks a presidential pardon from the President of the United States, Donald Trump.    

1. He is a Fraud Musician

The exuberant Joe Exotic also has country music singer under his résumé, but it wouldn't be Joe Exotic if there wasn't any controversy attached to it.

He was an aspiring musician, but upon realizing that he wasn't cut out for it, he conned other artists into performing songs under the pretense of using the song for a planned reality TV show. He posted the music video to YouTube under his name and took full credit for them.