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'Tiger King' Joe Exotic Claims From Prison That He Has 'Aggressive Cancer'

Joe Maldonado-Passage has an autobiography, “Tiger King: The Official Tell-All Memoir” scheduled for release on Nov. 9 and a second season of the smash-hit docuseries is scheduled for release on Nov. 17.

By Kevin Dolak
Joe Exotic Quiz

“Tiger King” personality Joe Maldonado-Passage, widely known as “Joe Exotic,” has updated his fans from prison about his health situation, saying in an Instagram post this week that he has now been informed that he has “aggressive cancer.”  

Maldonado-Passage, who quickly rose to fame as Nextflix’s “Tiger King” docuseries became a global hit while he’s been imprisoned in Fort Worth, Texas for animal abuse and orchestrating a murder-for-hire plot against his perceived rival, said in May that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The 58-year-old said in a Wednesday Instagram post that after receiving more news about his prognosis, he's "still waiting on the results from [another] test" to learn more information.

“Everyone, It is with a sad face that I have to tell you the doctors called me in today to break the news that my prostate biopsy came back with [sic] an aggressive cancer, I am still waiting on the results from [sic] other test as well,” he wrote from his federal prison cell on the social media platform. 

The eccentric and controversial former business owner, who at one point claimed to be the most prolific breeder of tigers in the nation, made his announcement about his diagnosis months after he was denied an anticipated pardon from outgoing former President Donald Trump in January and while he was seeking clemency from President Joe Biden. In August, Maldonado-Passage claimed the cancer might have spread to his pelvis. 

Days after he left his private, for-profit zoo, he was arrested while applying for a job at a Florida hospital. In January 2020, he was convicted on 17 federal charges of animal abuse and two counts of attempted murder for hire. His intended target was Carole Baskin, the founder of the nonprofit Big Cat Rescue and a leading advocate to end commercial cub petting.

In his Instagram post this week, Maldonado-Passage took another opportunity to lay into Baskin, who he has been feuding with and tormenting for over a decade. He has publicly accused Baskin of murdering her missing ex-husband, posted excerpts of her stolen diary online, and infringed on the copyright of her Big Cat Rescue — which led the courts to award Baskin a still-uncollected $1 million settlement in 2013.

“Right now I don’t want anyone’s pity and I’m sure Carole Will have her own party over this!,” Maldonado-Passage wrote this week.

Baskin has never been named a suspect in the disappearance of her ex-husband, Don Lewis, who disappeared after leaving his Tampa home on the morning of August 18, 1997. Nevertheless, his children have pushed the theory that she killed him and fed his remains to the tigers at their Wildlife on Easy Street sanctuary. In his campaign against Baskin, Maldonado-Passage introduced a theory that Lewis was buried in a septic tank on the sanctuary.

Maldonado-Passage is currently scheduled for release from prison in 2037. However, he is currently awaiting re-sentencing after an appeals court ruled in July that his sentence was too harsh. On July 21, a federal appeals court ordered that he be re-sentenced, stating the 22-year term handed down was excessive, given the circumstances.

"What I need is the world to be my voice to be released, they have the proof I DID NOT DO THIS!,” he concluded on Instagram, making a plea to readers. “And there is no reason for the district attorney to drag this out, So I can go home and get treatment on my own or enjoy what life I have left with my loved ones! Say a prayer everyone & be my voice.” 

In March 2020, journalist Robert Moor, who wrote a lengthy 2019 feature article on Maldonado-Passage and Baskin for New York magazine, publicly accused him of previously faking a cancer diagnosis for profit. On March 21, 2020, the day after “Tiger King” was released on Netflix and quickly became an instant global sensation amid the COVID-19 lockdown, he tweeted out a sickly selfie taken by Maldonado-Passage in a hospital bed. The date that the image was taken is unclear. 

“For a long time, Joe told everyone he was dying from prostate & bone marrow cancer. He raised $$$ from his Facebook fans for his expenses,” Moor wrote. “He showed me this horrifying photo as proof. I later learned he just had an infected prostate, dehydration, & a bad outbreak of herpes.”

Maldonado-Passage has an autobiography, “Tiger King: The Official Tell-All Memoir” scheduled for release on Nov. 9. A second season of “Tiger King” is scheduled for release on Nov. 17. Carole Baskin and her husband, Howard Baskin, have filed a lawsuit to prevent the release of the second series.

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