Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, gained widespread fame for his eccentric personality and career in the exotic animal industry. He ran the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, a zoo in Oklahoma that housed hundreds of exotic animals, including tigers, lions, and bears.
However, Joe Exotic's fame was short-lived, as he is now serving a 22-year prison sentence for various charges, including attempting to hire someone to murder his rival, Carole Baskin, and violating federal wildlife laws.
This article will delve into Joe Exotic's background and career, legal troubles, attempted murder plot, sentencing, and imprisonment. We will examine the allegations against him, the verdicts of his trials, and the controversy surrounding his case. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive overview of Joe Exotic's legal troubles and his current situation. Let us begin by exploring his background and career in the exotic animal industry.
Background and Career of Joe Exotic
Joe Exotic was born on March 5, 1963, in Garden City, Kansas. He grew up in a dysfunctional family and was reportedly abused by his father. Despite the challenges he faced, Joe Exotic was determined to pursue his passion for animals. He studied wildlife biology and eventually started his career in the exotic animal industry.
Joe's career in the zoo and exotic animal industry began in the 1990s when he bought a pet store in Texas. He later moved to Oklahoma and started buying and breeding big cats. In 1999, he founded the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, which became his flagship zoo. The park became known for its extensive collection of tigers, lions, and other animals, ultimately attracting visitors from all over the world.
The Extravagant Life
Joe Exotic was also a showman who loved to put on extravagant shows for his visitors. He performed magic tricks and stunts, such as jumping over a tiger on a motorcycle. He also ran for political office several times, including for the presidency of the United States in 2016.
The founding of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park was a significant turning point in Joe Exotic's career. The park became his main source of income and his ticket to fame. He became a prominent figure in the exotic animal industry and was featured in various TV shows and documentaries, including the Netflix series "Tiger King."
However, Joe Exotic's success was overshadowed by his legal troubles. His dispute with Carole Baskin, the founder of Big Cat Rescue, became the subject of national attention, and allegations of animal abuse at the park surfaced. In the next section, we will discuss Joe Exotic's legal troubles in more detail.
Joe Exotic's legal troubles began with his long-standing dispute with Carole Baskin and her Big Cat Rescue organization. In 2011, Baskin sued Joe for trademark infringement and won a $1 million judgment against him. This lawsuit was the culmination of years of animosity between the two, with Joe Exotic accusing Baskin of trying to shut down his zoo and Baskin accusing him of mistreating his animals.
Exotic's allegations against Carole Baskin include claims that she killed her first husband and fed him to her tigers, and that she orchestrated a campaign to destroy his business. These allegations have not been proven, and Baskin has denied them vehemently.
In addition to the lawsuit with Baskin, he faced numerous allegations of animal abuse at his Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. Various animal welfare organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States, investigated the park, documenting numerous instances of animal mistreatment and neglect.
In the end, Joe defended himself against these allegations, claiming that he loved his animals and was doing his best to care for them. However, in 2019, he was found guilty of multiple charges of animal abuse and was ordered to pay a fine of $25,000 per count.
Things Get Worse?
The combination of the lawsuit with Baskin and the animal abuse charges would have been enough to bring Joe down, but his legal troubles were far from over. In 2017, he was arrested for his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot against Carole Baskin. According to the charges, Joe Exotic had paid an associate to kill Baskin and had also attempted to solicit other individuals to carry out the murder.
Joe Exotic's trial for the attempted murder charges was a spectacle in itself, with allegations of jury tampering and misconduct by the prosecution. In the end, he was found guilty and sentenced to 22 years in prison.
Joe Exotic's legal troubles have left him with few options for appeal, and he is currently serving his sentence at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. Despite the controversies surrounding his case, it is clear that Joe Exotic's actions had severe consequences and have brought the issue of animal abuse in the exotic animal industry to the forefront of public attention.
Attempted Murder Plot
Joe Exotic's legal troubles did not end with the animal abuse charges. They took a more serious turn when he was accused of plotting to kill Carole Baskin, his longtime rival. The feud between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin had escalated to such an extent that Joe Exotic allegedly tried to have her killed.
Background of the Plot
The alleged murder-for-hire plot against Carole Baskin came to light in late 2017, when Joe was arrested and charged with a variety of crimes, including two counts of murder-for-hire. According to the charges, He had tried to hire hitmen to kill Carole Baskin twice. He had allegedly paid an undercover FBI agent $10,000 to kill Carole Baskin and had also offered to pay another man $5,000 to commit the crime.
The prosecution argued that Joe had targeted Carole Baskin because of the ongoing feud. They claimed that he saw her as a threat to his business and had a vendetta against her. In addition, the prosecution presented evidence that showed that Joe Exotic had made numerous threats against Carole Baskin in the past.
The Involvement of Joe Exotic's Associates
The man himself did not act alone in the alleged hit on Baskin. He had the help of several associates, including a man named Allen Glover, who was allegedly hired as the hitman. Glover testified in court that he had been offered money to kill Carole Baskin and that he had even gone to Florida to carry out the crime. However, he claimed that he had backed out at the last minute and had not gone through with the murder.
In addition to Glover, another man named Jeff Lowe was also allegedly involved in the plot. Lowe was a business partner of Joe Exotic's and had taken over the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park after Joe Exotic's arrest. The prosecution argued that Lowe had played a key role in the plot and had even helped him to plan the murder.
The Trial and Verdict of the Attempted Murder Charges
Joe Exotic's trial for the murder-for-hire charges began in March 2019. The prosecution presented a strong case against him, including testimony from Glover and evidence of the payments that Joe had made to him. In addition, the prosecution presented evidence of Joe Exotic's previous threats against Baskin and his alleged motive for wanting to kill her.
The defense, on the other hand, argued that Joe Exotic was the victim of a government conspiracy and that he had been set up by his enemies. They claimed that the evidence against him was circumstantial and that there was no direct evidence linking him to the alleged murder-for-hire plot.
Despite the defense's arguments, the jury found Joe Exotic guilty on both counts of murder-for-hire. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the charges, to be served consecutively with his sentence for the animal abuse charges.
The attempted murder plot against Carole Baskin was the most serious of Joe Exotic's legal troubles, and it cemented his status as a notorious figure in the public eye. His conviction on these charges, along with the animal abuse charges, has had far-reaching consequences for his life and career.
Sentencing and Imprisonment
Joe Exotic was initially sentenced to 22 years in prison for a range of crimes, including attempted murder, multiple counts of violating the Endangered Species Act, and several firearms offenses.
In January 2022, a federal judge resentenced him to 21 years in prison, reducing his sentence by just a year despite pleas for leniency from the former zookeeper, who was beginning treatment for early-stage cancer at the time. The judge refused to grant him a new trial.
Joe Exotic is currently serving his sentence at FMC Fort Worth, a federal medical center in Texas that provides specialized medical and mental health services to inmates. He has reportedly struggled with health issues in prison, including depression and a knee injury that required surgery. Despite his ongoing legal battles and appeals, it is uncertain whether he will be released before serving his full sentence.
PS: Why does Joe Exotic Go to prison?
Joe Exotic's legal troubles have been widely publicized and have generated significant controversy. While some view him as a colorful and charismatic figure who championed the rights of exotic animal owners, others see him as a cruel and abusive operator who exploited and mistreated the animals under his care.
Regardless of one's perspective on Joe Exotic, it is clear that his actions have had serious consequences. He has been found guilty of a range of crimes and is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence. As he continues to fight his legal battles and undergo treatment for his health issues, the legacy of Joe Exotic and the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park remains a subject of debate and fascination for many.