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Behind The $94 Million Lawsuit Joe “Exotic” Maldonado-Passage Filed Against The Government From The Prison

Published Tue Mar 31 2020 By Shreejan
Behind The $94 Million Lawsuit Joe “Exotic” Maldonado-Passage Filed Against The Government From The Prison

Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage is the latest in a long (and disgraced) list to receive the Netflix original series treatment. Joe Exotic was immortalized in true Netflix form in the true-crime docu-series, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness, which premiered on March 20, 2020.

But, if we've learned anything from the last few days, it is this: Joe Exotic doesn't need a Netflix series to cause an uproar; he is quite capable of causing a stir on his own.

He recently filed an outrageous $94 million lawsuit against the United States Federal government from his holding cell in the Oklahoma Grady County Jail, where he is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence.

In this article, we look at the life of one of the most notorious big-cat traffickers in Joe Exotic, including his recent lawsuit.

Joe Exotic's $94 Million Lawsuit

On March 17, 2020, People Magazine broke the news that Joe had filed a lawsuit against various entities, including the Department of Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service, his former business partner, Jeff Lowe, and the United States Federal Government.  

He filed the lawsuit against the Department of Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service for $78.840 million, alleging a conspiracy to put privately-owned businesses out of order by putting tigers on the Endangered Species List.

A mugshot of Joe Exotic
A mugshot of Joe Exotic

Source: The Oklahoman

He also filed the suit against the United States Federal Government for $15 million, alleging false imprisonment, false arrest, loss of personal property, and for contributing to the death of his mother.

He went on to name his former-business-partner, Jeff Lowe, in the suit and accused him of switching his medicine for drugs and destroying his property. 

Joe also stated that he would be representing himself in court. 

In addition, he also asked for a Presidential pardon from the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump. His statement of his official Facebook account reads:  

“This lawsuit has been filed in the name of Justice, The Trump Administration must be made aware of the Overreach, perjury, abuse of power and the failure to uphold the Oath of their position which is truth and Justice for all.”

Who Is Joe Exotic?

Joe Allen Maldonado-Passage, or perhaps more infamously known as Joe Exotic, is a former American zoo-keeper and, to a lesser extent, a country singer.    

Born Joseph Allen Schreibvogel, on March 5, 1963, Joe was born and raised in Garden City, Kansas. He did not have a fond relationship with his father, and after a family dispute, Joe attempted suicide by crashing his car, but narrowly survived.

Seeing his unlikely survival as a sign, Joe tried to turn his life around and started a pet store with his brother, Garold. In morbid irony, his brother would die in a car accident in 1997.  

Joe sold the pet store and started a small zoo on a 16-acre Wynnewood, Oklahoma ranch he bought and named it the Garold Wayne Exotic Animal Memorial Park after his brother. 

He soon began bringing in tigers and other exotic animals that he pawned off of overwhelmed customers, and by 2001, his zoo was home to over 1,000 animals, including nearly 90 big cats.  

He also had a side-gig as a traveling circus act. He would perform tricks with the animals and charge $25 each for petting animal cubs. 

Joe's other ventures include a failed run in the 2016 Presidential Elections and an obscure country-music career wherein he talked his way into getting credited for Vince Johnson and Danny Clinton's tracks.  

Joe is openly gay and had polygamous relationships with many men. He was married to Dillon Passage at the time of his incarceration; they got married in 2017. 

Considering that he was playing with fire with his traveling act, and coupled with the abysmal conditions in which the animals in his zoo were kept, he soon became the ire of wildlife activist and the owner of Big Cat Rescue sanctuary, Carole Baskin.

Feud With Carole Baskin

To say that Joe had an acrimonious relationship with Carole Baskin would be an understatement. Since Joe had landed in the animal rights activist's crosshairs, Baskin had done everything in her power to foil Joe's abhorrent practices. 

She launched online campaigns and pressured venues to have Joe's roadshows canceled. Joe was peeved with Baskin's attempts and had taken to mocking her online and performing lewd and violent acts on effigies resembling Carole.  

To retaliate, Joe went a step further and stole the name Big Cat Rescue for himself and started performing his roadshow act under Big Cat Rescue Entertainment

This prompted Baskin to sue Joe for copyright infringement in 2011 and was awarded $1 million in reparations.  

Joe Exotic and Travis Maldonado
Joe Exotic and Travis Maldonado

Source: Screen Rant

This didn't help their feud any. Combined with having to forfeit ownership of his zoo to another big-cat enthusiast, Jeff Lowe, as well as having his then-husband, Travis Maldonado, accidentally shoot and kill himself in 2017, Joe sought to snuff out the bane of his existence once and for all: by putting out a hit on Carole Baskin's life.    

Why Was Joe Exotic Incarcerated?

After one too many pitfalls, Joe looked to end the person behind his tailspin, wildlife activist, Carole Baskin, for good. 

He first looked at his employees to get the job done, offering one $15,000 to kill Baskin. When the person in question absconded with his money never to be seen again, Joe looked at hired-guns to get the job done. 

Joe Exotic had an acrimonious relationship with wildlife activist, Carole Baskin
Joe Exotic had an acrimonious relationship with wildlife activist, Carole Baskin

Source: Pop Buzz

But when the FBI -- on whose bad side Joe was already on -- got wind of the conspiracy, they sent an undercover agent disguised as a hitman. When Joe unwittingly admitted as much to the undercover agent, he was promptly taken into custody on September 7, 2018, from Gulf Breeze, Florida.

He was held at the Santa Rosa County Jail and moved to Grady County Jail in Oklahoma and was convicted on April 2, 2019.

In March 2019, Joe stood trial for two counts of murder-for-hire, eight violations of the Lacey Act, and nine of the Endangered Species Act. On January 22, 2020, Joe was sentenced to 22-years of federal imprisonment.