Shaquille O’Neal Responds To Critics For Involvement With Joe Exotic In Tiger King Docuseries
Shaquille O’Neal has hit back after being criticised for featuring in controversial Netflix series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.
The basketball player has claimed he isn’t friends with and doesn’t support questionable character Joe Exotic (real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage) despite visiting the The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park several times.
The series dropped on Netflix earlier this month and has been the talk of social media ever since as people learnt of the shady goings-on behind the popular exotic zoo, as well as about Joe Exotic himself.
It’s safe the say Tiger King hardly paints Joe – now behind bars – in a favourable light, so for Shaq to been seen as friends with him hasn’t worked in his favour either.
However, following the backlash, the 7ft sportsman has spoken out insisting he was ‘just a visitor’ at the zoo.
Speaking on his podcast The Big Podcast With Shaq, he says:
I was just a visitor. I met this guy. Not my friend. Don’t know him. Never had any business dealings with him, and I had no idea any of that stuff was going on.
People that know me know that I’m righteous. I don’t harm tigers. I love tigers.
We found out that he’s involved with all the stuff, and then, actually, I stopped going.
Despite all the drama, Shaq said he watched the series for himself and dubbed it ‘really good’.
The seven-part Netflix series follows the rollercoaster trail of Joe Exotic, the eccentric figurehead of GW Exotic Animal Park – a 16-acre ranch in Oklahoma where he kept more than 1,200 animals, mainly consisting of wild cats and bears.
While his zoo was built on the foundations of a deep love for animals, he quickly attracted criticism from PETA and other animals rights campaigners – most of all, Carole Baskin, CEO of the Tampa animal sanctuary Big Cat Rescue.
The docuseries chronicles the myths around Joe, his vicious rivalry with Carole and the eventual murder-for-hire plot that saw him imprisoned.
Since being in prison, Joe is apparently suing US Department of Interior and the US Federal Wildlife Service for $94 million.
He claims that placing the ‘generic tiger’ on the endangered species list was done with the sole purpose of targeting businesses like his, and putting him out of business.
Exotic is currently serving a 22-year sentence at the Grady County Jail in Chickashi, Oklahoma, for a murder-for-hire plot as well as violating the Lacey Act and Endangered Species Act.
Basically, Joe Exotic sounds like the type of guy you don’t really want to be associated with so it’s understandable Shaq wanted to clear his name in terms of being connected to him.
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