Given the bizarre show layers in Netflix King tiger, it can be easy to overlook the basic reality that made Joseph Maldonado-Passage, known as Joe Exotic, the show’s focus to begin with: the fact that private owners can open zoos filled with exotic animals – whose conditions vary widely – from seemingly professional to downright sinister. “Although it touches on the abuse of exotic animals and the problematic aspects of their possession, King tiger don’t dig into these issues as deeply as it could have, ”wrote Jen Chaney in her Vulture review of the hit Netflix docuseries. In a new prison interview with Netflix, recorded on March 22 and released on Friday, Joe Exotic himself seems to acknowledge the toll of his menagerie’s captivity, claiming he is “ashamed of myself”.
“Go sit in a cage with your pets for a week,” Exotic advises. “I mean, when I left the zoo and sent my chimps to the Florida sanctuary and imagined what my chimps went through for 18 years, I was ashamed of myself.” The statement echoes a moment in the final episode of King tiger, in which Exotic remembers seeing her two chimps kissing after being caged separately for over a decade. “Did I deprive them of this for ten years?” Yes, he said. “Did I do it on purpose?” No. I was busy having a zoo.
Asked about his sudden fame on TV, Exotic laughed, “You know, it would be nice if I could actually see myself being famous there, but I’ve seen those same four walls for a year and a half now.” Joe Exotic also thanks her husband Dillion Passage for his support and says he will be exonerated from the for-hire plan to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin, in addition to the animal abuse charges linked to violation of the Endangered Species Act, for which he has now been serving for 22 years.
“I am done with the Carole Baskin saga”, alleges Exotic. “Now is the time to turn the tide and Joe will be released from prison as a free man and exonerated from all these charges.”