What’s Really Going On With Joe Exotic And His Health?

The 2020 pandemic lockdown caused Americans to do odd things. We avoided coming anywhere near our fellow humans, cleaned off our groceries as though they contained nuclear waste, became overnight experts in Zoom, and felt like Olympic champions for making sourdough bread from scratch. We also gathered in droves to watch “Tiger King” (don’t deny it — you did, too). The bizarre-but-addictive Netflix series revealed the dark underside of several privately owned wildlife sanctuaries and the owners who make money from breeding tigers and other wild cats.

“Tiger King” focused primarily on the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma, owned by Joseph “Joe Exotic” Maldonado-Passage. When Joe Exotic wasn’t accusing rival Carole Baskin of murdering her first husband, he was celebrating his polygamous marriage to two men and trying to launch a political career by running for president. 

The series ended on a sobering note, as Maldonado-Passage was found guilty of a number of crimes, including plotting the murder of Baskin and illegally killing five of his tigers (via Fox 23 News). Thus far, he’s served two years of a 22-year sentence, and now he’s begging some highly influential people to pardon his sentence on compassionate grounds.

Joe Exotic says he's too sick to stay in jail

Joe Exotic has been seeking to be freed almost from the moment the jail door swung shut on him. His lawyer has tried to get his sentence overturned on the grounds that the jury was biased against him. When former President Trump was compiling a list of inmates to pardon prior to his leaving office, the Tiger King petitioned to be among them. When Trump ignored his plea, Maldonado-Passage concluded that he was “too gay” to win the sympathy of the far-right-leaning president (via HuffPost). 

The most recent wrinkle in the case involves a new health revelation. According to the most recent post on his Twitter account, Joe Exotic says that a recent medical test has revealed “my PSA count came back very high for prostate cancer.” He added that the prison will facilitate further testing to determine the stage of his cancer. The former big-cat owner is asking President Biden to give him the pardon his predecessor refused “so I can go home and get proper medical care and proper food.”

Some followers of his account offered supportive words; one said, “Oh Joe my heart breaks for you. Wishing you some peace. I wish you weren’t there.” But others were less sympathetic, noting the poor treatment the Tiger King’s animals received in his sanctuary. A representative comment noted, “Life sucks. It’s called consequences. Many people sadly die in prison. Just like many of those poor big cats spent their lives locked in tiny cages. Karma …”

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