Inside The Cage: A Breakdown of the Joe Exotic Case

Ava Stuzin, Multimedia Photo Editor

In January 2021, “Tiger King” star Joseph Allen Schreibvogel, better known as “Joe Exotic,” received 22 years in jail after being found guilty of attempting to hire two different men to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin. 

Carole Baskin’s, Exotic’s sworn enemy, website “911 Animal Animal Abuse” profiles people who mass breed tiger cubs who are separated from their mothers at birth and use them for photos to gain attention. The site railed against the profitable shows that Joe Exotic hosted at malls and fairs. As a result, he began to ruin his business and reputation, publicly threatening Carole all over social media and in person.

Exotic, who attempted to maintain his innocence, was also found guilty of killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs and falsifying wildlife records.

In a post on Facebook, Exotic maintained his innocence and explained his anticipation for filing an appeal. 

Exotic’s attorneys had argued for leniency on his sentence, noting he had no previous criminal convictions and that due to his health conditions, the recommended sentence according to the advisory guidelines would be a life sentence for the former 56-year-old.

Each of the murder-for-hire counts carried a 108-month sentence, consecutively served. The wildlife charges added another four years in prison. The tigers that Joe Exotic was found guilty of killing were shot in the head to make room for other animals. He sold and trafficked tigers and numerous other endangered species and proceeded to falsify documents to hide his violations of federal law.

During Exotic’s pre-sentencing statement, Judge Scott Palk stated that Exotic was “consumed, if not obsessed with silencing Carole Baskin.” Palk also noted Exotic’s lack of respect for the law. Joe Exotic had been found on a phone call attempting to arrange the sale of lion cubs while awaiting trial.

Exotic’s lawyers requested that he could own wild animals again after his release. Judge Palk sternly refused and required that Exotic never possess or care for animals again.

 While he had never been criminally charged before with any type of animal abuse, he has been investigated for his caretaking. In 2011, the Humane Society of the U.S. opened an undercover investigation and found tigers and other species caged in barren conditions, punched, dragged, beaten and bred to provide infant animals for public photo shoots.

Last year, in light of “Tiger King,” The Big Cat Public Safety Act went into effect, which prohibits ownership of big cats as pets.

In July 2021, Exotic’s sentence was reviewed, and it was decided that he should get a shorter sentence for his role in a murder-for-hire plot and violating the federal wildlife law. According to the ruling, they should have calculated the sentencing range between 17.5 years and just under 22 years in prison, instead of just under 22 years and 27 years in prison.

Tiger King” season two was released on Nov. 17 on Netflix; many were excited to watch but noticed changes. Notably absent was Carole Baskin, and Joe Exotic appeared briefly in the sequel but, as he was behind bars, it was difficult for him to be as involved as he was in the first season.