Tiger King’s Joe Exotic Went to Jail For More Than One Murderous Reason

Tiger King
Photo: Netflix.

Warning: Spoilers for Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness ahead. Why did Joe Exotic go to jail in Netflix’s Tiger King? What happened to Carole Baskin’s husband? And will there be a Tiger King season 2?! These are questions that many of us have on our mind after binge-watching Netflix’s Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness in the past week.

The docuseries, which was released March 20, follows the life of Joseph Maldonando-Passage (a.k.a. Joe Exotic), the former owner of Oklahoma’s Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, which houses more than 200 big cats, including tigers, lions and pumas. The first episode of the docuseries reveals that Joe is in jail and has been since 2018. But why? Well, if you’re confused (or just eager to find out what happens next in Tiger King), read on and we’ll explain it to you.

For decades Joe and Carole Baskin, the CEO of the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida, have been in a feud over their different opinions about big cats. Carole believes that Joe’s breeding programs, zoo conditions for his big cats and attractions where visitors can pay to pet lion or tiger cubs are abusive towards the animals, while Joe disagrees and does not appreciate that Carole has made it her mission to discredit him. Long story short, the feud became dark. Joe posted videos where he shot a blow-up doll in the head and pretended it was Carole, while Carole emailed malls across the country that Joe had cat shows with to cancel their performances.

Tiger King

Image: Netflix.

In 2013, Carole won a $1 million settlement against Joe after he stole the Big Cat Rescue’s trademarks and used them to organize shows under the sanctuary’s name. Unable to pay the settlement, Joe’s resentment of Carole grew. In 2018, Joe was arrested for allegedly paying $3,000 to a man named Allen Glover to kill Carole.

But murder-for-hire wasn’t Joe’s only crime. He was also charged with several violations of the Lacey Act, a conservation law that prohibits trade in illegal wildlife, and nine counts of the Endangered Species Act. Specifically, Joe was accused of falsifying delivery forms and vet inspections for tigers, lions and a baby lemur to make it seem like the animals were donated or publicly exhibited across state lines when they were allegedly sold. In one count, Joe was charged with selling a lion cub only two weeks after its birth.

As for the Endangered Species Act, Joe was indicted for nine violation for allegedly killing five tigers in 2017 to make space for other big cats in his zoo. He also violated the act by illegally selling tiger cubs. In April 2019, Joe was convinced of two counts of murder-for-hire, eight violations of the Lacey Act and nine of the Endangered Species Act. He was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison on January 22, 2020.

Since the release of Tiger King, TMZ reported that Joe filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Federal Wildlife service for almost $94 million. He’s also asked President Donald Trump for a presidential pardon. Looks like there will be a lot to talk about if there’s a Tiger King season 2.