How do you even begin to describe Joe Exotic? “Gay, gun-toting cowboy with a mullet” – Joe’s typical description of himself – is a good place to start, but it doesn’t embody half of his story and flamboyant personality. The owner of the GW Zoo, Oklahoma gubernatorial candidate and star of the Joe Exotic TV YouTube channel, Joseph Maldonado-Passage became the biggest name in America since the release of the new Netflix docuseries, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.
He is the most colorful personality on our TV screens at the moment, but that’s not the only reason why Joe Exotic has become a household name around the country. The undisputed Tiger King has an unsettling life story that reveals how he started one of the biggest exotic-animals empires in the country, how he’s become Joe Exotic, and why he seems to be the country’s most beloved celebrity at the moment.
Meet Joe Schreibvogel
Joe Exotic – the Tiger King – was born Joseph Schreibvogel, in Park City, Kansas. He grew up on a farm with his four siblings, who were all raised as farmworkers. Joe had an orientation to the farm, and more specifically, to farm animals, and he saw this as his future. Little did he know what was waiting for him down the line.
Growing up, Schreibvogel, the youngest of five siblings, had a close relationship with only one of his siblings, Garold Wayne, who went by the nickname G.W. The family moved often, until they finally settled in Texas when Joe was in his teens. Joe and his brother, Garold, shared a great love for animals (although that’s not how Carole Baskin would put it).