The eclectic Joe Exotic, equal parts politician and safari zoo runner, holds a few dark secrets.
Oklahoma native, zookeeper and previous presidential candidate “Joe Exotic” was indicted on two murder-for-hire charges on September 7. A press release from the Department of Justice alleges he paid an unnamed person $3,000 in November of last year “to murder ‘Jane Doe’ in Florida.” In a second count, Joe Exotic allegedly asked an undercover FBI agent to do the same after a third party notified law enforcement. If found guilty, he could face up to ten years for each count.
Joe Exotic, also known as Joseph Maldonado-Passage, previously ran the “G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Park.” Multiple animal rights groups claimed the park was abusive. In 2006, PETA sent an undercover investigator to the park and reported multiple “horrors.” Among them included two lion cubs forced to interact with the public until their paws bled, employees using scared goats and chickens as bait to move big cats into cages, and employees striking animals with rakes and shovels. In one instance, two healthy adult tigers were killed so their teeth could be given away as gifts. Their carcasses were dumped in a garbage pit, the report states. The thousand animals in the park sometimes went without food for days while employees intentionally falsified USDA feeding records.
For these and other abuses, Big Cat Rescue CEO Carole Baskin worked to expose Maldonado-Passage. Though unconfirmed, she says she is the targeted “Jane Doe.”
“Because Big Cat Rescue has been a leader in working to stop what we view as abuse of big cats and been very effective in our work, I have received multiple death threats over the years, including at one point a number of snakes placed in my mailbox,” she wrote on Big Cat Rescue’s website. “[Maldonado-Passage] ran, in our view, one of the most notorious cub petting roadside zoos in the country in Wynnewood, OK.”
Her statement details how Joe Exotic used to run a traveling petting zoo to malls around the country. When she began notifying malls of the mistreatment of the animals, they cancelled Maldonado-Passage’s show. Maldonado-Passage began to antagonize Baskin in numerous ways, including running his show under the name “Big Cat Rescue Entertainment” to confuse businesses. Big Cat Rescue sued for intellectual property rights violations and was eventually granted a consent judgement for over $1 million.
Maldonado-Passage is also famous online for running for President in 2016. In a video he posted on YouTube, he seemingly prided himself on “being honest.”
“I’m gay. I’ve had two boyfriends most of my life,” Maldonado-Passage says in his video. “I’ve had some kinky sex. I’ve tried drugs through the younger years of my life. I’m broke as shit.” He also claims he runs one of “the nicest facilities for exotic animals in this country” before adding, “I have a judgment against me from some bitch down in Florida.”
His YouTube channels are a mixed bag of zookeeping, politics and wrestling. Less than a year ago, he used JoeExoticTV to campaign for governor of Oklahoma. One video, posted in August 2017, is labeled “Joe Exposes PETA as Terrorist.” Another channel, JoeGoneWildTV, includes such videos as “Joe Exotic kicked out of Donald Trump Fundraiser 1” and “Peta spy caught in the Zoo,” in which Joe and employees follow and berate a man they believe to have recorded video for PETA. “Nat Geo screws Joe Exotic” and “Monkey love,” in which he records a monkey seemingly masturbating, are some included on a third channel. “This is what happens when your in a cage and get borde,” Joe writes in the description.
Maldonado-Passage was arrested in Gulf Breeze, Florida, where he made an appearance before a judge. He has since been moved to Oklahoma for further proceedings.