After gaining notoriety across the globe through Netflix’s Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, imprisoned zoo owner Joe Exotic is looking to capitalize on his fame and bring his request for a pardon all the way to President Donald Trump, per TMZ. Exotic is currently serving a 22-year federal sentence on charges that include animal abuse and murder for hire.
The TMZ report claims that Exotic — whose real name is Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage — and his legal team are in the process of putting together a case file for the president. The file will claim that Exotic has been wrongly convicted of crimes related to a murder-for-hire plot against animal rights activist Carole Baskin. The team will also reportedly claim that the charges related to Exotic killing tigers were filed in an effort to sully his image with the jury, thus ensuring an easier conviction on the murder-for-hire-related charges.
In early April, Trump said he would “take a look” at pardoning Exotic after being questioned about the zoo owner at a Coronavirus Task Force press conference. While Trump appeared to be unfamiliar with Exotic’s situation, the president did seem willing to learn more in a light-hearted back-and-forth with New York Post reporter Steven Nelson. Trump is no stranger to giving controversial pardons and sentence commutations — including to former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. The administration has made no further mention of Exotic, however.
While Exotic’s team reportedly has plans to publicize his request for a pardon — plans that purportedly include a bus promoting the phrase “President Trump Pardon Joe Exotic” — TMZ’s report claims that the documentary that gave Exotic such fame may also show why the former zoo keeper does not deserve to be a free man. Throughout the documentary, Exotic spoke about his desire to have Baskin killed, and offered as much as $50,000 to have it done.
Allen Glover claimed in court that Exotic gave him $3,000 to carry out the hit. Exotic disputes Glover’s account, and says the money was intended to get Glover to leave what was then Exotic’s G.W. Zoo in Oklahoma. Glover has since spoken with TMZ and claimed his decision to testify was “payback” for the manner in which Exotic treated both the zoo’s staff and animals.
While it’s unclear whether or not Exotic will be successful in gaining a pardon, Tiger King fans will shortly able to learn even more about the infamous zoo owner. An eight-episode miniseries is currently in the works, with Nicolas Cage slated to portray Exotic in the Oscar-winning actor’s first television role.