Carole Baskin feels Joe Exotic, 59, received a fair punishment after he was sentenced to 21 years in prison for conspiring to murder her. The Tiger King star and Big Cat Rescue Founder spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife and shared her thoughts after Joe, whose full legal name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced back in January for the murder-for-hire plot against his nemesis, 61.
“I do think that the punishment fits the crime because he’s someone who caused hundreds upon hundreds of tigers and lions and ligers to be bred into a life of deprivation, captivity, and pacing back and forth in tiny jail cells the same size as the one that he’s in now,” Carole said while celebrating the recent passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act which was signed by President Joe Biden on December 20.
Joe was arrested on Sept. 7, 2018 for the murder-for-hire plot against Carole, who owns the wildlife sanctuary in Tampa, Florida. The two had been at odds due to Carole’s active critique of Joe’s animal park and cat-keeping practices and she had also secured a million-dollar settlement against him for a trademark infringement suit in 2011.
Their feud finally came to a head in 2017 when Joe attempted to pay a man named Allen Glover for $3,000 to kill Carole. Joe was also arrested for accusations of illegally killing endangered tigers at his park to make room for other exotic animals.
“It baffles me that people will rally behind the person who killed five tigers in order to make space to board other tigers that were more valuable to them,” the animal advocate said when asked about the #FreeJoeExotic petition Joe has been promoting online. “Somebody that took out a hit with two different people to kill me. What kind of person backs that kind of mindset to put them back out there in the wild?”
“Joe was just one of quite a few of these animal, tiger cub ‘pimps’ that were constantly pimping out these cubs and so they needed to silence me in any way that they could. I’ve had a number of death threats from almost everybody that you saw in Tiger King,” she alleged. “Now that the law has passed, I don’t think they have nearly as much incentive to kill me as they did before.”
A federal jury found Joe guilty in Jan. 2020 on two counts of hiring someone to murder Carole in Florida, eight counts of violating the Lacey Act by falsifying wildlife records, and nine counts of violating the Endangered Species Act by killing five tigers and selling tigers across state lines. He was originally sentenced to 22 to 27 years in prison in Jan. 2020, but was re-sentenced in July 2021, where a court ordered his sentence fall between 17.5 and 22 years.
Meanwhile, Carole is feeling thrilled after the recent passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act which is “the first step to saving the tiger in the wild,” she explained. “This bill does two things; it stops the practice of allowing people to have public contact with big cats and their cubs. And it phases out private ownership of big cats. So people who have them can keep them, they just can’t buy or breed more. And with the cub petting, they can only use them for about three months and then they have to get rid of them because they become a huge liability.”
To mark this major milestone for lions, tigers, and other big cats, 150 of Carole’s organization’s amazing big cat short films have just launched on two compassion-based streaming TV networks, Earthstream and Jane Velez-Mitchell’s UnchainedTV.