"In real life, he is 100 times worse." Joe Exotic’s niece on what Tiger King left out.

This post contains mentions of animal abuse, and may be triggering to some readers.

Since dropping on Netflix three weeks ago, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness has quickly become the most talked about show in the world right now.

The seven-part series, which dives into the strange world of big cat ownership in the United States, follows the story of Joseph Maldonado-Passage a.k.a Joe Exotic – a self-described “gay, gun-toting cowboy with a mullet”.

Along the way, the often unbelievable docuseries is jam-packed with murder-for-hire, polygamy, countless big cats, heavy drug use and the exploitation of both animals and humans.

Watch the trailer for Netflix’s Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness below. Post continues after video.

Although the series is based entirely on a true story, Joe Exotic’s niece has come out of the woodwork to claim that her uncle is “100 times worse” than how he was portrayed in the Netflix documentary.

In an interview with DailyMailTV, Chealsi Putman, who appeared in the documentary and worked with Exotic on-and-off for 18 years, made a number of damning claims about her uncle and his Oklahoma zoo.

“In the Tiger King Netflix series, you can see glimpses of his evil persona but in real-life Joe is 100 times worse,” Putman claimed.

“I want people to know who the real Joe Exotic is, not the one you’ve seen on TV.”

Putman, whose mother is Exotic’s youngest sister, claimed that Exotic was initially a “good guy and genuinely cared for the animals”.

But over time, the 31-year-old, who did odd jobs for Exotic at his zoo from 1999 until 2017, witnessed a number of instances of alleged animal abuse.


“Our relationship was up and down, mainly because I wouldn’t put up with his bullsh*t,” she said.

“I’ve personally witnessed Joe spray a tiger with a fire extinguisher, not out of a safety or for a life-saving reason, but because the tiger didn’t react the way Joe had wanted it to,” she continued.

joe exotic now
Image: Netflix.

"A few years ago, at the zoo we had a monkey who just had a baby, Joe wanted to take the baby monkey away from its mother so he could sell it. The mother monkey naturally wouldn't let Joe take the baby away from her so, he decided to ‘dart’ the mother monkey.

"He was going to shoot a tranquilliser dart into the mother monkey so he could take the newborn baby away from her. Joe shot one dart into the monkey, but after a few minutes the tranquilliser hadn't worked, so he shot another dart into the mother, and another.

"He shot a total of five darts into the mother until she dozed off so he could pry the baby monkey away from its arms. I was disgusted by his actions, he's lucky the mother monkey didn't die."

Putman also alleged that Exotic sold countless baby tigers and even baby monkeys illegally.


"He would either take cash under the table for the sale of the tiger or if someone sent a cheque, it would be made out to another person, or if the money was wired to a store, it would be in another person's name," she said.

"Joe always attempted to distance himself from any illegal activity, but he had no problem involving his employees in it."

The mother-of-three recalled that Exotic would freeze tiger cubs when they died. Although Exotic claimed to pass the cubs onto a local university for research purposes, Putman believes Exotic was selling the cubs to taxidermists.

"Over the years there must have been at least 10 tiger cubs that he froze. I have no idea what happened to them, they would just disappear," she recalled.

"There wasn't much Exotic wouldn't do for a dollar."

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud, Mamamia's podcast with what women are talking about this week. Post continues below.

In even more disturbing allegations, Exotic's niece alleged that there may have been videos of people performing sex acts on the animals at the zoo.

"I didn't want to see [the videos], I just heard about them," she claimed.

In September 2018, Putman assisted the FBI in their investigation into Exotic.

When Exotic called his mother from his mobile phone while Putman was with her, she contacted the FBI to tell them that Exotic was talking to his mother at that moment, meaning the FBI could locate Exotic.

Within two days, Exotic was arrested.

"I'd do it again, he needed to be caught," she said,

"If it were up to me, I would have sentenced him to life behind bars, he wouldn't have ever seen the light of day."

All seven episodes of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness are available to watch on Netflix now.

Feature Image: Netflix.

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