Less than five months into a 22-year federal prison sentence, "Tiger King" star Joe Exotic is struggling to cope behind bars.
TMZ obtained an emotional letter the former big cat zoo owner, who was made famous by the 2020 Netflix documentary "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness" (real name: Joseph Maldonado-Passage), addressed to his "Supporters, Fans, loved ones" on June 1. It's believed he wrote it from his cell in Federal Medical Center Fort Worth, a Texas prison for male inmates with special medical and mental health needs.
Joe — who in 2019 was convicted on two counts of murder for hire in a plot to kill his nemesis, Big Cat Rescue CEO Carole Baskin, plus 17 federal charges of animal abuse — begins his three-page handwritten letter by declaring that "The pandemic is over" and asking "President Trump to keep his word and look into making this wrong a right and grant me a miracle." (Joe's supporters have been lobbying the POTUS for a pardon; in April, Donald Trump, who hadn't seen "Tiger King" at the time, dismissed a reporter's question about it during a press briefing, saying, "I'll take a look.")
Joe also asks prison reform advocates Kim Kardashian West and Cardi B for their help, writing, "Please ladies I've done nothing wrong but act a fool to protect my zoo from arson and people hurting my animals. Hear my scream for help."
He also writes about his physical and mental health, treatment in prison and heartbreak at not hearing from husband Dillon Passage. In addition, Joe chastises people in his orbit who are seeking fame and even compares himself to George Floyd, the black man killed by white Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
He makes it clear in his letter that he's having a very hard time. "My soul is dead, I struggle everyday to hold on to what little hope I can find," he explains before claiming that guards keep him "locked down 24/7 with no phone, email or commissary." Adds Joe, "You will never understand the mental abuse this does to a person."
He further says his health outlook is beyond bleak. Joe — who was born with the antibody deficiency CVID and "hemogamagloblin anemia," he writes, which requires "blood infusions every 4 weeks" — alleges he hasn't had one since January, which has resulted in weight loss and sores that won't heal. "I'll be dead in 2-3 months," he writes. "It's like I have been send to Death Row. They stopped all of my medication except one. This place is hell on earth and the mental torture of being locked in this room alone and not even hearing Dillons' voice or a letter…"
According to Joe, his husband has abandoned him behind bars and he's tortured by the images and stories fans are sending him showing Dillon out partying, sightseeing in Hollywood and making headlines for hanging out with reality TV stars. "All those who send screen shots of him with his buds, it's not cool, not funny and is not healthy for me. If he has moved on he should tell me. If he hasn't am begging [him] to support me, sad to be dumped like a dog in a shelter but that's how it feels," Joe writes, later urging fans to play Michael Jackson's "Will You Be There" song to Dillon "and ask him, 'Will he?' Or not? My heart must know!"
Joe also criticizes those around him who've sought attention on the heels of the success of "Tiger King," writing that they are all "riding the white horse of fame at my expense" and claiming that anyone doing films and signing contracts for related projects "should be ashamed of yourselves" because "this was my life … and I'm not even dead yet."
It is, Joe dares to claim, "like George Floyd. His message got lost on the riots, my message got abandon[ed] for money and fame. Shame on everyone making a buck." According to Joe, "Remember how that knife went in my back, it will go in yours also."