PETA Statement on Resentencing of ‘Joe Exotic’

For Immediate Release:
January 28, 2022

David Perle 202-483-7382

Oklahoma City – Earlier today, a federal judge in Oklahoma City sentenced Joseph Maldonado-Passage (aka “Joe Exotic”), formerly the operator of the notorious Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park and the primary supplier of big-cat cubs for the cub-petting industry, to 21 years in prison—just one year less than his original 22-year sentence. Maldonado-Passage was convicted on two counts of murder-for-hire and 17 counts of wildlife-related federal crimes, including for shooting five tigers in the head, in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and for trafficking in endangered animals. Please see the following statement from PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet, who appeared in all three Tiger King series, in response to the verdict:

This ruling confirms that “Joe Exotic,” a wretched man whose name has become synonymous with animal exploitation, will spend most if not all of the rest of his life in prison. PETA has rescued nearly 40 animals from this wildlife pimp and is calling on federal officials to charge the rest of his animal-abusing former associates, who, unlike the big cats they have abused, deserve to be behind bars just as much as he does.

Since Maldonado-Passage’s conviction, PETA has secured a court victory against his former associate Tim Stark and his Indiana roadside zoo, Wildlife in Need, declaring that prematurely separating lion, tiger, and lion-tiger hybrid cubs from their mothers; declawing them; and using them in cub-petting encounters violates the ESA. Over the years, PETA rescued 32 big cats, three bears, two baboons, and two chimpanzees from the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. More information about Maldonado-Passage is available here.

For Media: Contact PETA's
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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind