FORT WORTH, Texas — Joe Exotic, the star of the Netflix series “Tiger King,” revealed Wednesday that he has an aggressive form of cancer.
“Doctors called me in today to break the news that my prostate biopsy came back with an aggressive cancer, Carole Will have her own party over this! Say a prayer everyone & be my voice,” tweeted the 58-year-old, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage.
His attorney, John M. Phillips, confirmed his client’s diagnosis in another tweet.
“I can and will publicly confirm Joe’s cancer. He and I spoke Monday with both of us in tears at a point. He needs freedom by so many definitions and we are diligent working towards that,” wrote Philips.
Maldonado-Passage is currently serving time in a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, after being found guilty in a murder-for-hire plot. He was sentenced to about 22 years in January of 2020, a few months before the premiere of the TV show that followed Maldonado-Passage’s life working with big cats and his conflict with co-star Carole Baskin.
Maldonado-Passage allegedly hired a person in 2017 to kill Baskin and also hired someone who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent to commit that murder. He’s also accused of falsifying forms involving the sale of wildlife in interstate commerce, as well as killing tigers to make cage space for other big cats, and selling tiger cubs in interstate commerce. Because tigers are an endangered species, those alleged killings and sales violated the Endangered Species Act.
The disclosure of Maldonado-Passage’s cancer diagnosis comes two weeks before the premiere of the second season of “Tiger King” on Netflix.
It also comes as Baskin sues Netflix and the show’s production company in an attempt to stop them from using footage of her and her Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in the upcoming season or promotions for the show.