Bummed about finishing Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness on Netflix? Don’t worry, the drama continues: Joe Exotic — a.k.a. Joseph Maldonado-Passage — filed a $94 million dollar lawsuit against the government and Jeffrey Lowe, his former business partner. The former zookeeper is currently serving 22 years in prison for trying to hire a hitman to murder animal rights advocate Carole Baskin, as well violating wildlife law.
The lawsuit, obtained by Rolling Stone, was filed at the Grady County Jail in Oklahoma on March 17th and alleges that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the “generic” tiger on the endangered species list not to protect the animals, but to target certain individuals, including Maldonado-Passage, who breed those animals and use them for business. This allowed “them to file charges to put me in jail and out of business,” he writes in the suit, “therefore stealing my property and promoting an animal rights agenda.”
As such, he is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Interior for $78,840 million for “18 years of research and care of 200 tigers and cross-breeds for 365 days a year.”
He is also requesting an additional $15 million for damages, including “false arrest, false imprisonment, discrimination, malicious prosecution, selective enforcement, misinterpreting the law, and contributing the death of Shirley Schreibvogel” (his mother).
As for Lowe, a Las Vegas businessman who currently owns Exotic’s Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, Exotic claimed that he “filed false statements” to federal agents. “He was the main person in this entrapment scheme to take my zoo for free,” he claims. “Changed my medicine with illegal drugs, stole my animals under fraudulent reasons. Destroyed my house with all my personal property in it. Couched and encouraged the government witnesses to lie under oath.” When reached for comment, Lowe’s wife, Lauren, called the lawsuit “nonsense.”
“We’re not worried about it,” she said. “We’ve been told that a judge will not approve it because of the crimes that Joe has committed.”
The suit also alleges that Exotic is “the only person charged with this statute because [he] is an openly gay male with the largest collection of generic tigers and crossbreeds.”
A representative for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Interior has not responded to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.
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