The outlandish world of Tiger King may feel like it transpired decades ago, but in fact, it’s been less than 12 months since Netflix introduced us to the chaotic Joe Exotic, alongside archnemesis Carole Baskin, and the ensuing drama that comes with owning their respective businesses, the G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Park and Big Cat Rescue.
The viral docu-series, which was released in March 2020, follows Exotic—real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage—an openly gay man from Oklahoma who, for many years, ran a makeshift zoo featuring hundreds of exotic animals, namely tigers, which he and his team bred onsite. It chronicles the zoo owner’s years-long feud with animal rights activist, Baskin, who runs a big cat sanctuary in Tampa, Florida. The series ends with Exotic sentenced to 22 years in prison after being convicted of several crimes, including a murder-for-hire plot against Baskin.
Overnight, the Tiger King star has spoken out after failing to receive a presidential pardon from Donald Trump during his last days in office.
Releasing a tweet on January 21, Exotic claimed he was “too innocent and too GAY to deserve a Pardon from Trump.”
“I only mattered to Don Jr. when he needed to make a comment about me to boost his social media post,” he added, referencing a meme Donald Trump Jr. had shared online last year, in which the then-president’s face was superimposed onto Maldonado-Passage’s mugshot.
“Boy, were we all stupid to believe he actually stood for Equal Justice? His corrupt friends all come first,” the tweet finished.
It might have seemed shocking to Exotic that he was left off the list of 73 pardons Trump dished out before his presidential term ended—including to rapper Lil Wayne—with his legal team so confident it would happen, they reportedly had a stretch limo waiting to pick him up from prison.
Exotic first began petitioning to have Trump pardon him in March last year, releasing a video proclaiming his innocence.
In April, a reporter asked the then-president if he would be issuing a pardon to the zoo owner, to which he responded: “I’ll take a look.”
Baskin responded to the news, telling Fox News: “I’m taking a deep breath because I feel such a sense of relief. From the very time that he was sentenced, I have worried about there being a presidential pardon that could undo all of the hard work that went into bringing this person to justice. When today at noon a new president was sworn in, I felt like I was finally safe from that threat.”
Last year, the disgraced zookeeper also wrote to Kim Kardashian West to ask for her help.
In a letter to the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star, he wrote: “I know you have never met me and may never want to however I do believe that you hold the values of our justice system dear to your heart,” continuing, “I am writing you this letter not as Joe Exotic but as the person Joseph Maldonado-Passage, asking you to please help me by just taking 10 minutes out of your life and placing a call to President Trump to look at my 257-page pardon.”
Kardashian West is yet to respond.