‘Tiger King’: Joe Exotic – Suicide Attempt and How He Really Feels about Being in a Cage

Tiger King: Joe Exotic’s storyline in the Netflix docuseries has everyone talking and wondering. The characters and plot twists are both colorful and unbelievable at times. However, there is a tragic and dark side to Joe’s early adult life.

A failed suicide try will often change the course of someone’s life. In the case of Joe Exotic, it took a path no one could have seen coming.

Tiger King: Joe Exotic’s Failed Suicide Attempt and a Walk on the Wild Side

Joe Exotic (or Joe Maldonado) as he was known in his early years, became chief of police at the age of 19 in Eastvale, TX. Even though he knew he was gay at a young age, he kept it a secret and always felt accepted at work.  

There came a time though when his father found out about his sexuality through a sibling and basically disowned him. The Tiger King recalls his father making him shake hands and promise he would not attend the funeral for his dad when the time came.

This encounter devastated Joe, and not being able to deal with all his chaotic thoughts, one night he drove his police car off a bridge. That suicide attempt broke his back. Joe Exotic went to Florida for rehab and it turned out his neighbor worked at Lion Country Safari. This was the Tiger King star’s introduction to wild cats and it became a life long obsession.

Tiger King: Joe Exotic - Travis Maldonado - John Finlay

Netflix’s Tiger King: Does Joe Exotic Have a Suicide Curse?

Joe Exotic’s attempt at suicide is not the only such tragedy in his life. One of his husbands, Travis Maldonda, died at his own hands.

Travis started working at the zoo when he was only 19. The two quickly became involved in a relationship and Travis married Joe twice. First in an unofficial ceremony along with Joe’s other boyfriend John Finlay and another official union when it became legal in 2015.

Travis was a dare-devil and played pranks on his co-workers. In addition, loved his guns. One day in the gift shop of the zoo, he was playing with a Ruger pistol. He claimed that even with a round in the chamber, the gun would not fire without a magazine. When he tried to prove his theory, he put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. He died instantly.

Episode 5 of the Tiger King showed the footage of the shooting as the cameras faced the others in shop.

Travis’ family does not believe it was an accident and has even floated the theory that the ashes they received were not of their beloved son.

Tiger King: Joe Exotic

New Revelation about Cages

Tiger King‘s Joe Exotic spent most of his life raising, breeding and showing his tigers. He kept them and his other animals in cages. It was a way of life he never gave much thought of. Until now, when he is in a cage himself.

Since his conviction in a murder-for-hire plot, he has been in prison and it has changed his mind about how he treated his animals. He regrets his decision and now knows how it feels to be locked up.

Joe Exotic is currently being held at a prison medical facility in Fort Worth after fellow inmates were diagnosed with COVID-19.

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