Joseph "Joe Exotic" Maldonado-Passage is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence

By Gabrielle Chung
June 24, 2020 08:54 PM
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Joe Exotic
Netflix

Tiger King star Joseph "Joe Exotic" Maldonado-Passage, who is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence, has been released from isolation following a letter-writing campaign from fans, according to a representative for the former Oklahoma zookeeper.

Maldonado-Passage had been locked up in "the SHU" —  the security housing units — but has since been placed in "a room with a hospital bed and a WINDOW," according to a note posted on Maldonado-Passage's Instagram on Tuesday.

"Recently, most of you became aware of the fact that Joe was being unjustly held in solitary confinement for an extended period of time. Two thousand of you were kind enough to take time out of your busy lives, in spite of all that is going on in this world around us today, to write and ask that he be released," a statement shared on another post read.

"It is with much sincere gratitude that we can tell you all today your efforts have paid off! Joe has called this very day to let us know that the day has finally come. For the first time in two years he is able to simply look out of a window into the world beyond while being lifted out of hopelessness and desperation by the kindness shown from all of you."

Joseph Maldonado-Passage
Uncredited/AP/REX/Shutterstock

According to inmate records, Maldonado-Passage is currently being held Fort Worth FMC, a medical center operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

He was transferred to the Fort Worth, Texas, prison facility in early April amid fears of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Earlier that month, Maldonado-Passage’s husband, Dillon Passage, shared on the SiriusXM Radio Andy show that his partner had been placed “on a COVID-19 isolation” behind bars.

“We speak like three to five times every day, but since he’s been moved to this new facility, they are putting him on a COVID-19 isolation because of the previous jail he was at, there were cases,” he told said of Maldonado-Passage at the time.

Dillon Passage and Joseph Maldonado-Passage
Joe Exotic/Instagram

When host Andy Cohen asked if Maldonado-Passage was "in his own COVID-19 quarantine,” Passage said that he was.

“From what I know, yes,” he said. “From what he told me.”

In June, Passage opened up about his husband's treatment in prison, telling PEOPLE, "He feels like he's being punished because he's in solitary confinement, which isn't necessarily the case."

"I mean, I don't know exactly what's happening in there. But I know that being in a small concrete room is probably miserable," he said. "I feel bad for him because Joe's the type of person who needs constant attention and people around him and if he can't have people around him, he's got to be able to talk to them."

RELATED VIDEO: Dillon Passage on His Marriage with Joe Exotic: ‘The Only Thing Keeping Us Going Is Hoping for the Best’

As seen in Netflix’s Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, Maldonado-Passage — a former country musician, zookeeper, gun enthusiast and big-cat keeper — owned an exotic animal park and boasted of having the largest number of big cats in America. He was found guilty in 2019 of paying Allen Glover $3,000 to kill Carole Baskin, a big cat conservationist whom he considered his rival and for killing tigers to make room for more big cats at his exotic animal park. He was also found guilty on multiple charges of violating both the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records, and the Endangered Species Act.

Maldonado-Passage filed a lawsuit in March against various government agencies, as well as a former business partner Jeff Lowe, seeking $94 million in damages.

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