Tiger King star Joe Exotic says he is desperate to prove that he is innocent of animal cruelty, in an exclusive interview with DailyMailTV.
It’s the first time fans have heard from Exotic since the release of season two of Netflix‘s Tiger King, currently one of the streaming platform’s biggest shows.
In a recorded prison phone call shared with DailyMailTV, Exotic claimed he was misrepresented as needlessly killing tigers in his Oklahoma zoo, which he feels was a key part of his conviction last year.
Exotic defended his decision to shoot five of his G.W. Zoo big cats point blank in the skull as they were ‘old and in pain.’
But he claimed millions of fans worldwide branded him an animal abuser following the Netflix show broadcast and that prosecutors went into detail about the tiger killing process to make the jury ‘hate’ him.
Scroll down for video
Joe Exotic spoke to DailyMailTV in his first jailhouse interview since the release of season two of Netflix’s Tiger King
The mullet-sporting former zookeeper – who shot to fame last year thanks to the hit Netflix documentary – was sentenced to 22 years in prison after being convicted for violating federal wildlife laws and a failed murder-for-hire plot targeting Carole Baskin
In a recent phone call, Exotic also makes some eyebrow-raising accusations against chief FBI agent Matt Bryant, who built the case against him, and prosecutor Amanda Green.
He alleges that Bryant and Green both knew that witness statements surrounding claims he wanted Carole Baskin assassinated were falsified.
His one-time business partner Jeff Lowe and pal Allen Glover gave evidence to authorities which proved pivotal in Exotic’s conviction for conspiracy to commit for murder for hire.
The two men have since backtracked and said they lied in sworn legal statements, and Exotic’s lawyer John Phillips is now pushing for a full retrial.
‘What do I want the people to know? I am innocent,’ the disgraced former zookeeper said in a recorded interview.
‘It may sound bad to the world that I shot five tigers to euthanize them and put them to sleep because they were old and in pain.
‘I buried those tigers fully intact. Their teeth were in their head and their hides were on their bodies. I buried them. With respect I didn’t half burn them and leave them under a tarp like the USDA and Fed found some at the new zoo.
‘They admitted that knowing the gunshots through the heads would make the jury hate me.’
The 58-year-old, pictured in 2013, told DailyMailTV he was misrepresented as needlessly killing tigers at his Oklahoma zoo, which he feels was a key part of his 2019 conviction
Exotic defended his decision to shoot five of his G.W. Zoo big cats point blank in the skull as they were ‘old and in pain’
Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison after being convicted of trying to hire two different men to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin.
In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver ruled the trial court wrongly treated those two convictions separately in calculating his prison term under sentencing guidelines.
He is waiting for news on when re-sentencing takes place, but is not holding back on his attacks of his treatment within the justice system.
The 58-year-old claimed his public defenders Bill Earley and Kyle Wackenheim did not explain to the jury the trauma of ‘tranquilizing a big animal’ before euthanasia, which prompts ‘seizures, convulsions and throwing up before a vet can walk in.’
Tough times: Exotic is serving a 22 year prison sentence in Fort Worth, Texas as a federal jury found him guilty on two counts of hiring someone to murder Baskin in Florida, on eight counts of violating the Lacey Act by falsifying wildlife records, and on nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act by killing five tigers and for selling tigers across state lines
Exotic claims that is why he took the unorthodox step of shooting his tigers point blank.
But he insists that he was never cruel to those wild cats, despite accusations by fellow tiger sanctuary owner and nemesis Carole Baskin.
‘I was never charged or accused of animal abuse by anyone except Carole Baskin, because she thinks petting baby tigers is abusive,’ he said.
Tiger King 2 shows Phillips take affidavits from Lowe and handyman Glover – the alleged assassin Exotic hired – saying they knowingly lied to prosecutors.
Exotic says the two men’s contribution to the prosecution’s evidence, including text messages between Glover and the jailed star, was pivotal in his conviction.
‘The text messages were set up. And they admit that,’ Exotic said in his prison interview. ‘Jeff and Allen made those text messages and made it look like I was doing this.
‘I walked away from my zoo and my life, just handed it to them but that was not enough.
‘They had to fabricate s*** after I left the zoo to still have me arrested and be able to take my zoo away.
‘We all have the witnesses that should have been on the stand in court, and I should have had a fair trial.
‘The witnesses and statements that are still going to be released, whenever John Phillips feels the time is right, is going to shock the world. It is going to put the biggest black cloud over our Department of Justice.’
Exotic’s pal Allen Glover (left) and one-time business partner Jeff Lowe (right) gave evidence to authorities which proved pivotal in Exotic’s conviction for conspiracy to commit for murder for hire. The former zookeeper insists the two men gave falsified statements
Exotic insists he was never cruel to the wild cats at his zoo, despite accusations by fellow tiger sanctuary owner and nemesis Carole Baskin
Phillips feels confident a new trial would allow him to raise serious doubt over prosecution claims that Exotic gave a ‘burner’ phone to alleged hitman Glover in the murder-for-hire plot.
But Exotic went even further, accusing Green and Bryant of ‘obstructing justice’.
‘What do these docs prove? They prove Agent Bryant and Amanda Green obstructed justice by suppressing evidence and covering up evidence that would have told the truth,’ he said.
‘And then you are going to have to wonder about every case that Agent Bryant and Amanda Green have ever been on. Are those people sitting in prison innocent as well? It is going to shock every politician that serves for this country.
‘The evidence that we currently have now, there needs to be a federal agent, a couple of FBI agents and a US attorney that go to jail.’
Exotic, battling an aggressive cancer, was moved from Fort Worth Federal Medical Center in Texas to the Butner Federal Medical Center in North Carolina for better medical care.
Film maker Theresa McKeown, who examined Exotic’s case on podcast the Judge and the Journalist, says Exotic told her he was given the all-clear by an Oklahoma vet to euthanize the five tigers.
Return: Tiger King 2 debuted on Netflix November 17 – with the hotly anticipated sequel chronicling Joe Exotic’s fight for freedom after being convicted in the murder-for-hire plot of rival Carole Baskin
The claim could be central to tackling his conviction for breaching the Endangered Species Act and Lacey Act in any retrial.
McKeown, who is writing a book about her experience with Exotic called The Joe I Know, told DailyMail.com: ‘Joe insists he had permission from his vet to shoot a tiger instantaneously if it was in pain or sick and the vet was unable to attend. In his memoir he wrote he followed USDA guidelines.
‘Based on my own experiences at the zoo, I witnessed how Joe interacted with animals and it was clear he loved them.
‘He has told me in great detail how he was heartbroken about having to euthanize these tigers, but felt it was the most humane thing to do.
McKeown, who is sympathetic to Exotic, added: ‘On the podcast after lengthy examination we felt there were holes in the case, evidence that needed further examination and experts too raised many questions.
‘There is significant doubt about the murder for hire charges. Joe has always said that he did what he felt was the most humane thing for the animals.
‘Given all this new information, a new trial would be the just thing to happen.’