As if Tiger King wasn't crazy enough, the colorful subject of the hit Netflix docuseries has a tie to late pop star Michael Jackson that wasn't explored. As the documentarians tackled the twisting and turning story of Joseph Maldonado-Passage a.k.a. Joe Exotic's alleged murder-for-hire plot against fellow big cat keeper Carole Baskin, longtime followers of the wild news story pointed out that the former gubernatorial candidate housed alligators and a crocodile once owned by the former King of Pop and rescued from Neverland Ranch after his death.
A 2015 Baltimore Sun story confirms the connection, revealing that seven alligators and a crocodile previously owned by Jackson were victims of a fire that burnt down an entire building and destroyed a video production studio on Joe's property on March 26 of that year. While the Netflix series didn't reveal Jackson's tie to the animals who perished in the fire, it did dive into implications that Joe was behind the fire in order to get rid of hundreds of hours of possibly incriminating footage from the filming of Joe Exotic TV.
At the time of the fire, Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhode confirmed that the department was suspecting arson as a cause behind the fire, with Joe saying on YouTube at the time of the alleged perpetrator, "They might have shut me up for just a little while, but let me tell you they have awoken a monster. Now, Joe Exotic is pissed off."
Joe was never convicted of arson, but in the final episode of Tiger King, was sentenced to 22 years in prison, having been convicted of multiple charges including an alleged assassination plot against fellow big cat keeper Carole Baskin.
Joe is still in prison to this day, but the former zookeeper has filed a $95 million federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and government agents, accusing them of violating his civil rights. In the legal filing, obtained by PEOPLE, Joe has claimed $73,840,000 is for loss of personal property; 18 years of research; and care of 200 generic tigers and cross-breeds for 365 days a year, at a rate of $60/day per animal. An additional $15 million is for false arrest, false imprisonment, selective enforcement and the death of his mother, Shirley, he claims.
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