Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get more ridiculous, the big cat owner whose story has provided Americans with some much-needed entertainment during the coronavirus shutdown… has himself contracted coronavirus. Joe “Exotic” Maldonado-Passage, the 57-year-old big cat owner and star of Netflix’s hit show Tiger King, contracted the virus in prison. Exotic’s fourth husband, 24-year-old Dillon Passage, confirmed the diagnosis.
According to a report from the prison, the big cat owner had been self-isolating but he contracted the virus, anyway. Inmate records show he has been transferred from isolation to the prison’s medical center, the New York Post reported. Exotic is currently serving a 22-year sentence at a federal prison in Texas for 17 charges of animal abuse and two counts of murder for hire.
“We speak like three to five times every day, but since he’s been moved to this new facility, they are putting him on a COVID-19 isolation because of the previous jail he was at, there were cases,” Passage told Andy Cohen on his SiriusXM radio show on Wednesday. “I’ve yet to speak to him since he moved.”
Dillon confirmed that Exotic “is in his own COVID-19 quarantine.”
The Netflix show Tiger King tells the story of how this performer created a big cat empire, became a target of animal rights activists, and hired a hitman to kill one of those activists, Carole Baskin. The show reveals his freaky charisma, his dangerous lifestyle, his quirky clothing, and his unforgettable story. Americans stuck at home in coronavirus quarantine have latched on to the fascinating show.
Now it seems the connection to coronavirus has gotten far more dangerous for Joe Exotic.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.