Joe Exotic, the actual name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, rose to popularity in recent years as the principal character in the Netflix documentary series "Tiger King." The show gave viewers a look into the world of exotic animal ownership and the feuds that erupted within it. However, Joe Exotic's flamboyant attitude and provocative activities put him in jail.
The Murder-for-Hire Plot
What The Murder-for-Hire Allegations Are About
Joe Exotic's involvement in a murder-for-hire plot is one of the main reasons he is in prison. He was convicted in 2019 on two charges of murder for hire as well as eight counts of breaching the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act.
The Target: Carole Baskin
Carole Baskin, an animal rights activist and the proprietor of Big Cat Rescue, was Joe Exotic's intended victim in the murder-for-hire plot. Exotic has a long-running hatred of Baskin, constantly criticizing her on his internet program and accusing her of animal cruelty. The prosecution said that he wanted Baskin dead to eliminate competition and take over her animal sanctuary.
Conviction And Sting Operation
Joe Exotic had no idea the guy he sought to carry out the murder-for-hire scheme was an undercover FBI agent. During the trial, evidence provided included taped conversations, emails, and films pointing to Exotic's desire to have Baskin killed. Consequently, he was found guilty and sentenced to 22 years in federal prison.
Animal Cruelty And Wildlife Violations
Operating A Zoo Without The Required Permits
Joe Exotic was convicted of wildlife crimes and animal maltreatment in addition to the murder-for-hire plan. He violated federal restrictions by operating the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma without the proper permissions and licenses.
Animal Abuse And Mistreatment
Several claims of animal cruelty and neglect were leveled against Joe Exotic and his zoo. Former staff and animal rights organizations said that the animals under his care were subjected to inhumane living circumstances, a lack of medical treatment, and a poor diet.
Disturbing photographs and videos of animals in discomfort and unhygienic settings have also surfaced.
Endangered Species Act Violations
In addition to the wildlife breaches, Joe Exotic was charged with Endangered Species Act violations. He was accused of murdering five tigers to create room for fresh arrivals and increase money from selling their cubs. Killing endangered species without legal licenses is a severe federal offense.
Other Illegal Activities
Insurance Fraud and Arson
Joe Exotic's illegal actions were not limited to the murder-for-hire plan and animal cruelty. He also committed arson and insurance fraud. Exotic made an insurance claim after his music studio at the animal park was maliciously torched on fire in 2015.
The evidence presented at trial revealed that he plotted to burn down the studio in order to collect insurance money.
Illegal Wildlife Trade
Joe Exotic was a participant in the illicit selling and trafficking of wildlife. He was accused of violating the Lacey Act by selling tiger kittens across state boundaries. He also illegally sold and transported additional exotic animals.
- One of the major reasons Joe Exotic is in jail is his involvement in a murder-for-hire conspiracy. He was convicted on two counts of murder-for-hire and several wildlife violations.
- Carole Baskin, an animal rights activist and the proprietor of Big Cat Rescue, was his intended victim in the murder-for-hire conspiracy. He was enraged by her and sought to remove her as a competitor in the exotic animal market.
- Joe Exotic's conviction was the product of an undercover FBI sting operation. He had no idea that the individual he asked to carry out the scheme was an undercover spy. All the conversations, emails, and videos were recorded and used as evidence during the trial.
- In addition to the murder-for-hire conspiracy, Joe Exotic was convicted of wildlife crimes and animal maltreatment. He operated his zoo without the required permissions and licenses, violated the Endangered Species Act, and was accused of animal abuse and maltreatment.
- He was prosecuted for violating the Endangered Species Act after murdering five tigers to make room for fresh arrivals and profit from the sale of their offspring.
- Joe Exotic was also charged with arson and insurance fraud in addition to these accusations. He plotted to set fire to his music studio at the animal park and then submitted an insurance claim for the damage.
- Joe Exotic was involved in the illicit sale and trafficking of wildlife, including the illegal transfer of tiger cubs over state borders, violating the Lacey Act.