Joe Exotic

American zoo operator, Internet personality, musician, and cult leader.

Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage (né Schreibvogel; born March 5, 1963), also called Joe Exotic, is an American jailed criminal and former zoo operator. He was born in Garden City, Kansas.

Joe Exotic
Joe Exotic's 2018 mugshot
Joseph Allen Schreibvogel

(1963-03-05) March 5, 1963 (age 61)
Garden City, Kansas, U.S.
Other names
  • Joseph Allen Maldonado
  • Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage
  • Joe Exotic
  • The Tiger King
  • Aarron Alex
  • Cody Ryan[1]
Height1.8 m (5 ft 11 in)
Travis Maldonado
(m. 2015; died 2017)

Dillon Passage
(m. 2017; separation 2021)
Partner(s)Brian Rhyne (1986–2001)
JC Hartpence (2002–2003)
John Finlay (2003–2014)
Criminal statusIncarcerated at Federal Medical Center, Fort Worth
Criminal chargeMurder for hire, animal abuse
Penalty22 years
Date apprehended
September 7, 2018

Exotic owned and ran the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. He is known as a tiger breeder. He ran for public office twice: first for President of the United States in 2016 as an independent and then for Governor of Oklahoma in 2018 as a Libertarian.

In 2019, Exotic was convicted on 17 federal charges of animal abuse and two counts of murder for hire. He allegedly hired a man to kill Big Cat Rescue CEO Carole Baskin.[2] He was given a 22-year sentence in federal prison. In July 2021, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that this sentence was long.[3]

In 2020, Netflix released a 7-part documentary, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. It talked about Exotic, his zoo, and his fight with Baskin.

In prison, Exotic was put in quarantine in a security housing unit because he had been in contact with someone who had COVID-19.[4] He was moved to "a room with a hospital bed and a WINDOW" after his fans wrote many letters to the prison. As of July 2021, Exotic is in prison in Texas.[5][3]

Exotic is openly gay.[6]

In May 2021, Exotic said that he had prostate cancer.[7][8] In August 2021, he said that his cancer might have spread to his pelvis.[9]

In March 2023, Exotic announced his candidacy for President of the United States for the Libertarian nomination in the 2024 election.[10] The following month, he withdrew from the Libertarian primary and instead chose to run for the Democratic Party nomination.[11]


  1. Moor, Robert (September 3, 2019). "American Animals Joe Exotic bred lions, tigers, and ligers at his roadside zoo. He was a modern Barnum who found an equally extraordinary nemesis". Intelligencer. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  2. Brulliard, Karin (January 22, 2020). "Zookeeper who killed tigers and tried to have rival murdered is sentenced to 22 years in prison". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Alyssa Lukpat (July 14, 2021). "Court Orders Resentencing of Joe Exotic in 'Tiger King' Murder-for-Hire Plot". New York Times. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  4. Samuel Spencer (April 3, 2020). "'Tiger King' on Netflix: Does Joe Exotic Have Coronavirus?". Newsweek. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  5. Gabrielle Chung (June 24, 2020). "Tiger King's Joe Exotic Moved Out of Isolation After Months of Coronavirus Quarantine, Says Rep". People. Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  6. Patrick (December 7, 2017). "Joe Exotic is getting married on Monday…". The Lost Ogle. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  7. Dosani, Rishma (May 15, 2021). "Tiger King: Joe Exotic reveals cancer diagnosis as he begs to be freed from jail". Metro. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  8. Sinclair, Leah (May 15, 2021). "Tiger King star Joe Exotic diagnosed with prostate cancer". Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  9. "Joe Exotic Says His Cancer May Have Spread". TMZ. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  10. Teh, Cheryl (March 21, 2023). "Joe Exotic is running a long-shot 2024 campaign for president, all while serving 21 years in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot".
  11. "Joe Exotic switches parties for 2024 presidential run". Tulsa. April 12, 2023. Retrieved April 12, 2023.