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Joe Exotic, also known as Joe Schreibvogel and Joe Maldonado-Passage, is the subject of the buzzed-about Netflix documentary Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. The zookeeper’s former “husband,” John Finlay, appeared on David Spade’s Lights Out and confirmed Jackson used to own some of their animals.
Finlay — who now has all of his teeth — worked on the Oklahoma property as “a welder, a maintenance guy” and “animal handler.”
“I just did a big genre of jobs,” he explained. Although Finlay is referred to as Joe Exotic’s husband throughout the show, he clarified that they never legally wed. Finlay joined G.W. Zoo in June 2003 and worked there for about 15 years.
“I have had several favourite animals. My most favourite ones were probably the alligators and the crocodiles that we had,” he continued. “One of the previous managers had gotten us Michael Jackson’s alligators from Neverland Ranch. We had gotten some other ones from some friends and stuff, and [those are] the ones I really took care of most of the time.”
Authorities ordered Jackson’s Neverland Ranch to be shut down in 2008. The singer’s seven alligators and one crocodile were killed in a 2015 fire at the zoo while housed in Exotic’s production studio. The fire was later determined to be arson.
Exotic declared on his YouTube channel that the creatures were “boiling alive in a towering inferno.” At the time, he said the fire was a personal attack by someone trying to “make a statement” and get him off the air. He filmed his show Joe Exotic TV in the studio.
“They might have shut me up for just a little while, but let me tell you they have awoken a monster,” he said in 2015. “Now, Joe Exotic is pissed off.”
It’s been speculated the fire was set by Exotic, something he has denied.
Tiger King has fascinated a slew of celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, Cardi B and Chrissy Teigen. There is an upcoming miniseries in the works based on Robert Moor’s podcast Joe Exotic. Though stars like Dax Shepard and Edward Norton are vying for the lead role on social media, Moor has a different person in mind.
“Names we were throwing around were like Sam Rockwell. My preferred casting — and this is a bit off the wall — would be Margot Robbie,” he said on Andy Cohen‘s SiriusXM show Radio Andy. “I think Margot Robbie should play Joe in like a gender switch.”