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Tiger King Fails To be Pardoned

Written by on January 20, 2021

As President Donald Trump left the White House for the last time Wednesday morning, there was something he skipped: a pardon for Joe Exotic.

On Monday, a rep for Exotic expressed confidence Tuesday would bring a pardon for the Oklahoma zookeeper made famous by the wildly popular Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. The rep, Eric Love, even said Exotic had a limo on standby Tuesday outside the Texas prison where he’s currently serving a 22-year sentence.

Yet Exotic, whose legal name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, wasn’t on the list of the 73 pardons and 70 commutations issued by Trump during his final hours. Recipients included former chief strategist Steve Bannonformer Uber and Google engineer Anthony Levandowski, and rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black.

Maldonado-Passage became a meme-able internet sensation owing to the stranger-than-fiction Tiger King series, which started streaming in March 2019. The show detailed his bitter feud with nemesis Carole Baskin, owner of a big-cat sanctuary in Tampa, Florida.

Maldonado-Passage was found guilty of involvement in a murder-for-hire plot targeting Baskin. He was also found guilty on counts of falsifying wildlife records, killing tigers and selling tigers interstate. He began serving his sentence in early 2019.

Buzz of a possible pardon for Maldonado-Passage began in early December.


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