Tiger King star Joe Exotic ‘over the moon' about newfound fame

The exotic animal breeder is serving 22 years in prison.

Tiger King star Joe Exotic is “happier than he has ever been” after shooting to fame in the Netflix documentary, its director has said.

Exotic – real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage – is serving 22 years in prison for plotting to have an animal rights activist murdered.

Tiger King followed the mulleted, gun-toting polygamist and country-western singer as he bred exotic animals while running an Oklahoma zoo.

His part in the docu-series sparked a craze which has seen stars including Rob Lowe and Jared Leto dress up in his distinctive style.

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem And Madness (Netflix/PA)

Rebecca Chaiklin, who co-directed Tiger King with Eric Goode, told the PA news agency Exotic was “over the moon” about his newfound fame.

Asked whether they stayed in touch with the characters featured in the show, she said: “I must get 30 phone calls a day and texts and Eric maybe even more so. There is a lot of communication going on.

“Most characters are super happy. The Rick Kirkhams, the Josh Dials, the Saffs – and then there are other characters who are probably less happy with the way they were portrayed.

“I mean, Joe is over the moon. I really mean over the moon.

“Even though he is locked in this horrible prison, he’s happier than he has ever been in his life, because he is finally famous.

“It is the most bizarre twist of all to me, the psychology of it. It’s bizarre.”

Exotic, 57, was last year convicted of 17 federal charges of animal abuse and plotting to have animal rights activist Carole Baskin murdered.

Baskin and Exotic were locked in a long-running feud over the latter’s alleged mistreatment of animals.

Carole Baskin (Netflix/PA)

Fans of the series have also backed Exotic’s allegation that Baskin murdered her husband and fed him to tigers, an accusation she dismisses as ridiculous.

Goode said he hoped the mystery of Baskin’s husband, Don Lewis, was solved.

He said: “There is certainly lots of ambiguity surrounding the disappearance of Don Lewis. It’s a long time ago.

“Absolutely the story continues as far as the cat owners. And we can probably predict what will happen.

“That was one of the challenging things about making the series, was that we had to lock it at a certain point, even though the story continues.

“But yes, Don Lewis’s disappearance, that would be really fascinating if there was some closure. If we knew what happened there, that would be really interesting.

“As far as the cat owners go, the Jeff Lowes, the Doc Antles – I don’t think history is on their side and I think we will probably see things unravel sooner rather than later.”

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem And Madness is on Netflix now.

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