John Finlay, the ex-“husband” of Joseph Maldonado-Passage — known as “Joe Exotic” and the previous owner of the Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma — is opening up about taking care of some of the animals kept at the park.
Speaking with David Spade on Sunday night’s episode of Lights Out with David Spade, Finlay shared that some of his favorite animals at the zoo were the massive reptiles — which he said once belonged to Michael Jackson.
“My most favorite ones were probably the alligators and the crocodiles that we had,” Finlay told Spade. “One of the previous managers had gotten us Michael Jackson’s alligators from Neverland Ranch.”
“That’s a good get,” Spade said.
“We had gotten some other ones from friends and stuff,” Finlay added. “That’s the ones I really took care of most of the time.”
Netflix John Finlay
Jackson’s estate has not confirmed that the alligators that once lived on the Neverland Ranch are the same animals that ended up at Maldonado-Passage’s zoo.
“Michael Jackson’s estate cannot confirm if said alligators had belonged to the late singer,” a spokesperson from the late singer’s estate said in a statement to PEOPLE Tuesday.
Offspring from those alligators are said to have perished in the 2015 fire featured in Tiger King‘s fourth episode, according to a feature about Maldonado-Passage published in The Intelligencer in September 2019.
YouTube Joe Exotic at the site of the 2015 fire
The cause of the fire — which took place on March 26, 2015, in the early hours of the morning — has caused much speculation.
Maldonado-Passage has claimed that his nemesis and competing large-cat enthusiast Carole Baskin paid someone to start the blaze, but others theorize that Maldonado-Passage himself was the one to set the fire. Both Maldonado-Passage and Baskin have denied these accusations, and neither Maldonado-Passage nor Baskin have been charged.
The Los Angeles Times reported back at the time of the fire that seven alligators and one crocodile that had died in the fire had previously lived at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara before it closed.
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is now available to stream on Netflix.