Joe Exotic Has Changed His Mind About Keeping Animals In Cages After Experiencing Prison
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Joe, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was the star of last year's hit Netflix series Tiger King, but is now serving 22 years in prison for plotting to have his rival Carol Baskin killed, along with 17 charges of animal abuse.
And with the 'Tiger King' now locked up, it would appear that Maldonado-Passage has had a little time to re-think his stance on keeping wild cats in captivity.
Speaking to journalist Mariana Van Zeller in a forthcoming episode of her National Geographic series Trafficked, Maldonado-Passage admitted he's had a bit of a u-turn.
The 57-year-old told her in a phone call: "I hate to sound like an animal rights person but my whole outlook on animals being in captivity has changed since I have been in jail.
"If I would have known 20 years ago what life inside a cage is like I would never have had a zoo. It doesn't matter if it's a tiger or a gerbil, no animal belongs in a cage."
Maldonado-Passage reflected how he became the 'largest breeder and handler of tigers in the United States', having owned a zoo in Oklahoma that has since permanently closed.
He continued: "You are getting the world to pay for your hobby.
"At least I was man enough to say: 'Look, I run a roadside zoo and I breed tigers'."
Van Zeller added: "I do think he realises for the first time what it is like to be caged because he had never been to prison before."
Maldonado-Passage is currently serving a 22-year sentence in federal prison, after being convicted of the attempted murder-for-hire of Carole Baskin, as well as 17 wildlife crimes.
The former owner and operator of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, he lost control of the zoo that made him famous to Jeff Lowe - who then lost it to Maldonado-Passage's arch nemesis Carole Baskin.
Baskin eventually decided to sell the property, on the condition that it is never used as an exotic zoo or a tourist attraction again.
Trafficked begins on National Geographic UK on 18 January.