What life is like for Joe Exotic behind bars

There was quite a lot to absorb while watching Netflix's Tiger King. The docu-series gave us a polygamous marriage, a missing husband, a fake music career, a strangely shirtless interview, and a celebrity-connected, big cat-peddling peer, just to name a few of the jaw-dropping aspects of what viewers witnessed onscreen. Needless to say, it was a roller coaster of a real-life story. 

However, surely the most outrageous part of the docu-series was the murder-for-hire plot. In January 2020, Joe Exotic (whose legal name is Joe Maldonado-Passage), the star of the docu-series and former owner of the G.W. Exotic Animal Park, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for selling cubs and killing five tigers, according to the New York Post. He's also spending time behind bars for attempting to have his nemesis and the woman behind a famous big cat sanctuary, Carole Baskin, killed. 

"Prosecutors said he offered $10,000 to an undercover FBI agent during a December 2017 meeting" during which he apparently was recorded saying, "Just like follow her into a mall parking lot and just cap her and drive off," per the New York Post. Although Joe claims that he never really wanted any harm to come to Baskin, the jury deciding his fate obviously didn't believe him, which is why he's now behind bars ... and it doesn't sound like he's enjoying his stay.

Joe Exotic says jail is 'worse than you can ever treat an animal'

"At the end of the docuseries, Joe Exotic was still being held in a county jail," according to Marie Claire, though he has since been transferred to a federal prison in Texas. Regardless of his whereabouts, Joe has made it clear is that he's not happy with his circumstances.

"They strip you butt naked, put you in a six-by-eight-foot concrete room with no windows, no blankets, no nothing," Joe Exotic said in a clip from the docu-series (via Newsweek). "I've been stripped of my clothes, my rights, my identity, [and] my dignity." 

In another clip, Joe can be heard crying while saying that he needs to get out of the slammer. "It's worse than you can ever treat an animal," he says. "...I can't do much more of this." That's surely why he's now appealing his lengthy sentence.

Joe Exotic filed a $94 million lawsuit and wants a presidential pardon

Joe Exotic still claims that he's innocent and has every intention of being released. "At some point the U.S. Attorneys office and Agents involved will have to answer to the fact that they participated in Perjury to obtain this conviction," he said in a statement shared on Facebook on Jan. 22, 2020. "I was punished for taking advantage of my Constitutional Rights to not plead guilty to their very well-orchestrated frame job of murder for hire."

According to The Blast, Joe has filed an appeal in federal court. He's also filed a $94 million lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and against Jeff Lowe, his former business partner, and other colleagues. Oh, and one more thing: Joe wants a presidential pardon. 

"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," he wrote in another Facebook statement on March 19, 2020. "I have been illegally charged with these crimes and the Trump Administration, the United States Department of Interior along [with] the Federal Wildlife service must be held accountable for what they have done to me, my parents, and my family, along with my animals."

Though Joe is clearly upset about his circumstances, he's supposedly enjoying the attention and support he's attracted from celebrities like Cardi B.

Joe Exotic is 'over the moon' about his newfound fame

Following the viral popularity of Tiger King, the docu-series' co-directors and writers, Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, spoke to the Los Angeles Times about Joe Exotic's reaction to his newfound fame. Apparently, the Tiger King star "is absolutely ecstatic about the series and the idea of being famous," Goode said while noting that the Netflix star had been calling him regularly. "He's absolutely thrilled."

Chaiklin backed that up, saying, "You can hardly talk to him without him mentioning the amount of press he's getting. He says people are asking to see his Prince Albert [piercing] and girls are sending him sexy bikini pictures even though he's gay."

"He's over the moon. Having kept in pretty close touch with him while he's been in a horrible county prison, this has raised his spirits," Chaiklin continued. 

Chaiklin went on to say: "Joe definitely did some horrible things to his animals. He was very abusive to them and he shot five tigers, no question about it. But what has happened to him has also been hard."