BUTNER, NC (AP) – Former Oklahoma zookeeper known as “Tiger King” Joe Exotic, a prominent figure in a Netflix documentary series, has been transferred to a medical facility in North Carolina for federal inmates after a cancer diagnosis, according to his lawyer.
Joe Exotic, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was flown on a plane for transfer from a Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, to a Federal Medical Center in Butner, NC on Tuesday evening or early Wednesday Defense attorney John Phillips said in a statement. Phillips, who tweeted his statement on Saturday, said Maldonado-Passage was initially due to transfer later this month.
Phillips said Maldonado-Passage told him he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and was receiving medical treatment and testing “for a multitude of issues.” Phillips said medical care in prison “is not the best and justice is slow.”
“It is a competition of life and freedom in which no one wants to participate,” he added.
In July, a federal appeals court ruled that Maldonado-Passage should face a shorter prison sentence for his role in a murder conspiracy and for breaking federal wildlife laws.
He was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in federal prison after being convicted of attempting to hire two different men to kill Florida animal rights activist Carole Baskin. A three-judge panel from the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver found that the trial court improperly treated these two convictions separately in calculating his prison sentence in accordance with sentencing guidelines .
The appeals court panel said its advisory sentence range should be between 17.5 and just under 22 rather than just under 22 and 27 years in prison, as the calculated the court of first instance.
Maldonado-Passage and his blond mullet were featured in the Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”.
Meanwhile, Baskin, of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, has lost an effort to stop Netflix and a production company from using a previously recorded video of her and her husband in the sequel to “Tiger King,” which started airing on November 17.
A federal magistrate issued a recommendation on Friday rejecting Baskins’ offer to block the use of the images as an impermissible prior restriction under the First Amendment.