Joe Exotic Arrested for Murder for Hire

Joe Exotic Mug Shot Arrested Murder for Hire

 

Today Joe Schreibvogel Maldonado-Passage, aka “Joe Exotic,” was arrested after being indicted by a Federal Grand Jury on two counts of “murder for hire” for seeking to hire someone to murder Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue. Schreibvogel had made threats online over a period of years including a video of him shooting in the head a blow up doll dressed to look like Carole and an image hanging her in effigy.


“It is important to understand that this is not the isolated act of one crazy bad apple,” Baskin said. “A significant part of our mission has been to stop mistreatment and exploitation of big cats at roadside zoos, particularly those who rip tiger cubs from their mothers at birth to charge the public to pet and take photos with them. Because Big Cat Rescue has been a leader in working to stop what we view as abuse of big cats and been very effective in our work, I have received multiple death threats over the years, including at one point a number of snakes placed in my mailbox. According to the FBI, animal abuse is highly correlated with human-to-human violence.”

Schreibvogel ran, in our view, one of the most notorious cub petting roadside zoos in the country in Wynnewood, OK. Years ago he also operated a traveling exhibit that would bring cubs to malls throughout the Midwest and Southwest. When Big Cat Rescue educated the malls about the miserable life this created for the cubs and the malls started cancelling Schreibvogel’s traveling exhibit, Schreibvogel retaliated by renaming his traveling show “Big Cat Rescue Entertainment” in order to confuse the public into thinking the show was operated by Big Cat Rescue. In 2011 Big Cat Rescue sued for violations of its intellectual property rights and in 2013 was granted a consent judgment for over $1 million. Litigation to collect on the judgment has been ongoing since then in Oklahoma.

We are ENORMOUSLY grateful to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the FBI, the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma and the U.S. Marshall’s Service for the many months of incredibly hard work that went into this investigation and arrest.

Read the Indictment here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4844380-Joe-Exotic-Indictment.html

If there are questions that aren’t answered on this page, you might try Scott E. Williams who is the press contact for the US Attorneys office at 405-553-8999.

Perhaps the most important thing I can say about all of this is I believe there wouldn’t be people who rip lion, tiger and liger cubs from their mothers to use as pay to play props gunning to kill those who expose the abuse if Representative Rob Bishop, Chairman of House Committee on Natural Resources, would call up the Big Cat Public Safety Act for a hearing.  We have enough votes on both side of the aisle for this bill, banning cub petting to pass, but it can’t move forward until he calls it up for a hearing.  It’s HR 1818 / S 2990 and we have 140 co sponsors in the house.  It’s time to pass the bill so that it becomes illegal to exploit cubs this way.

Samples of threats:  JOE SCHREIBVOGEL THREATS DIRECTED AT CAROLE BASKIN

Video clips of threats

 

 

Photo of Howard and Carole Baskin supporting Big Cat Public Safety Act in Washington, DC
Photo of Howard and Carole Baskin at Big Cat Rescue
Photo of Howard and Carole Baskin at Big Cat Rescue

Examples of exotic pet owners and roadside zoo owners saying they should have helped Joe Exotic kill Carole Baskin.  Click each to see larger file.

Barbara Hoffmann was a circus owner with frequent interactions in support of Joe Exotic.

Joe Exotic Murder for Hire

Gretchen Mogensen is part of the Mogensen family which owns a number of roadside zoos, including the ZAA member Gulf Breeze Zoo which was just down the road from 15 San Carlos where Joe Exotic was arrested.  Mogensen spent time at Joe Exotic’s facility in Wynnewood, OK and at T.I.G.E.R.S. in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  According the indictment, one of the alleged hit men traveled from Wynnewood to South Carolina.  ZAA is the only known organizational opponent to the Big Cat Public Safety Act. Mario Tabraue (who is the man most of the bad guys say they have a connection to and that they can hire to kill Carole Baskin) and “doc Antle” of T.I.G.E.R.S. have also used the same lobbyist, Frank Vitello, to oppose the ban on private possession of big cats.  Can this really be a coincidence?

Joe Exotic arrested down the road from Gulf Breeze Zoo
Joe Exotic arrested down the road from Gulf Breeze Zoo

 

Mike Stapleton, below, is one of the owners who had his tigers seized by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.  One of those tigers, Teisha, spent her final days in peace at Big Cat Rescue after ODA asked us to come get her.

 

I haven’t run across Olivia Robertson before, but she seems to be claiming credit for brokering Joe Exotic’s cubs to pet owners.  She says below, “I just recieved (sic) the best comment vis PM “You’re right we all want her gone…why didn’t we all pitch in”

Ardina Pawloski below says she was a supporter of Tiger Ridge in their alleged bid to break the law in Ohio which resulted in the confiscation of their cats who are being held in sanctuaries pending final resolution of that court case.  Four of those cats are at Big Cat Rescue in “witness protection.”

 

Julie Walker, agreeing with their statements below, was the owner of Serenity Springs at the time of the nation’s largest rescue mission from her decrepit facility in Colorado.  110 big cats had to be relocated.  Many had come from Joe Exotic.  Five tigers came to Big Cat Rescue in that rescue mission:  Priya, Gabrielle, Seth, Andy and Charaka.

 

Karl Mitchell, of Big Cat Encounters, below says they have a good point of view.

Kurt Beckleman appears to be connected to the Safari’s Interactive Sanctuary Zoo, run by Lori Ensign.  During the time that Jeff Lowe was in jail in Nevada he alleges that Joe Exotic was selling GW Zoo cats and equipment to all of Joe’s friends.  Several online posts suggested Joe was transporting cats to Broken Arrow, which is where it is believed both Kurt Beckleman and Lori Ensign were.

 

JoDee Craigmile Nilson is a self proclaimed exotic animal trainer and truck driver. Her memes imply she is agreeing with Donny Miller saying they should have put together a GoFundMe page to raise more money for a better hitman.

Places Joe Exotic Apparently Sent Cats

If you know of other transactions where Joe has bought or sold tigers please let us know by emailing Cat@BigCatRescue.org  There have been an awful lot of trips between Joe’s place and “doc” Antle’s place, so any evidence of transfers between those two would be helpful.  We expect many, many more were sold and transferred than what appears here.  One person claimed that she raised 150 cubs bred by Joe Exotic in 2004 alone.

1) 10/24/10 Joe sent a Tiger to Wildwoods in PA

In 2012 USDA cited Wildwoods for keeping a tiger in a cage only 72 in high and not big enough to move around freely

Photos show tiny, barren, concrete and steel cells for tigers

Exhibits:  USDA inspections, three photos of tiny, barren cages

2) 6/21/11  Joe sent a leopard to Jeremy Hinkle

As of 2011 Jeremy Hinkle had racked up 13 bad USDA inspections in 5 yrs

Exhibits:  USDA inspections, news from 2011

USDA inspections included:

Failure to provide veterinary care to animals who had broken legs

Dangerous disrepair in big cat cages

Failure to provide shade to the tigers

Filthy conditions and rat infestation of feeding areas

Failure to provide clean drinking water

Improper handling of drugs and medications

Storing a dead lion in the freezer with the animal food

3) 6/25/11 Joe sent three tigers to Noah’s Ark.  He sent a 4th tiger too

Park manager says that these tigers were misrepresented to her as cats Joe rescued and did not have room for, but all of them had been born at GW Park and used as photo props.  Lost over $100k 2009 and 2010, raising issue of whether they were being sent to a place that could assure good care long term.

Exhibits:  USDA inspections 2008 and 2010, 990 2009-10

USDA inspections 2008 and 2010 included:

Failure to obtain health certificates for wild animals crossing state lines

Improper storage and handling of food items to protect from contamination

 

4) 7/1/11 Joe sent a leopard to Tiger World and on 8/11/11 sent them a tiger

In 2011 Tiger World was fined by USDA for a long history of violations and their 990 shows them in the red.

Exhibits:  USDA inspections 2007-2011, 990s 2009-10, news article trying to send cats to Iraq, photo of tiny barren cage, Born Free press release re USDA revoking owner license and being sold to someone he trained.

USDA inspections included:

Fine $2,571 in 2011 for the improper handling of a tiger, its escape and lack of barricades to protect the public, gave lions and tigers inappropriate toys they had chewed, including plastic barrels with chunks of sharp pieces missing and possibly ingested.

5) 8/4/11 Joe sent a tiger to the Hillcrest Clovis NM Zoo

Exhibits:  USDA inspections 2009-2011

USDA inspections included:

Dilapidated cages, insecure doors, missing fences, poor housekeeping and flies and rats in the washroom, news article of zoo guests tormenting animals, facebook pictures of Sooner the tiger, who appears to have come from Joe and is chewing plastic

6) 8/20/11 sent 2 tigers to Robert Engessor of The Zoo

Engessor reportedly has sold lion cubs via the Animal Finder’s Guide

Exhibits:  USDA inspections 2007-2011, visitor comments “sad exhibit of miserable animals” and another who said the facility was just as bad

USDA Inspections include:

In 2011 USDA cited The Zoo numerous times for:

Using a 16 week old cub that was unmanageable for interaction and photos

Using a 6 week old lion cub who had not been vaccinated yet for photo ops

Failing to provide proper food and water sources

Failure to provide adequate veterinary care

Failing to provide environmental enrichment to primates

Failing to maintain enclosures and transport trailers

Poor housekeeping

Leopard attacking a 5-year-old girl, causing injuries

In 2007 he was cited for

Using an unvaccinated 6 week old cub for interaction and photos

Failure to keep proper transfer records

7) 10/25/11 Joe sent a tiger to Forever Wild Exotics

On Forever Wild’s website they state that the person they got the cub from (Joe not mentioned by name) lied to them saying the 12 wk cub was DNA surplus for Indo Chinese breeding program.  Had ringworm and was actually 20 weeks old.

Exhibits:  2007 news article that they were in over their heads financially and that if their house went into foreclosure they would euthanize all of their animals, news article bragging that they wrestle with bears, 3 news articles about a leopard being so fat that her belly dragged the ground to the point of gaping holes that had to be sewn shut.

8) 12/18/11 Joe sent *3 tigers, 2 leopards, 1 liger and a serval to Serenity Springs

The very next month the USDA sued them for violations dating back to 2007 for:

No vet from 2007-2010

The deaths of 31 young animals

Failure to vaccinate against distemper and failure to safeguard cats from carriers

Failure to treat ringworm on tiger cubs

Lacking perimeter fence

Unsafe conditions

Performing euthanasia without a vet by cutting the tiger’s throat

Owner bilked a volunteer out of $40,000 after volunteer was bitten by a tiger (owner was convicted of fraud).

Exhibits:  USDA inspections 2007-2011, USDA lawsuit 2012, news article 2006 about dishonest dealing, OSHA report, 990s 2007-2010,  Joe’s missing health certificate 1714878 for import 12/11 of *4 tigers, 3 leopards, 2 ligers, 1 serval and a paca, news article bilking volunteer for 40,000 after injury by tiger

9) 02/2012 Joe sent 2 yearling tigers to Doug Terranova Circus in Kaufman, TX

This was just a few months after Terranova was fined 25,000 by USDA for:

Failure to properly handle tigers, elephants and others

The death of two cubs that were born on the road while the circus was traveling

(offspring of a brother and sister mating)

The third cub was in such poor condition that it was seized by USDA

Failure to maintain proper records

Failure to allow USDA inspections

Exhibiting animals without proper licenses

Joe says he NEVER sends big cats to private owners; only USDA facilities, but these people are not USDA licensed

10) 11/13/09 Joe sent a Leopard and a Liger to Springhill Wildlife Center

They do not have a USDA license

2008 caught trying to sell tiger cubs in WalMart parking lot to Mexicans

Joe issued press release describing the horrid conditions of the cats at Springhill

Exhibits:  Joe issued press release 4/27/08 saying that he was rescuing “two more tigers in jeopardy at the Springhill Wildlife Park in Calvert, TX.” He went on to say that he had rescued 18 tigers from there the year before who were “requiring surgeries and veterinary rehabilitation,” and that many were missing toes and feet from botched declaw jobs, and that one had been hit so hard in the eye that part of her skull had to be removed.  4 news articles about Springhill being busted selling tigers to Mexican nationals in the parking lot of at TX WalMart and 4 photos of same

11) 8/3/10 Joe sent a tiger to Pam Pape in PA

No USDA and no record of her anywhere.  (HB: Facility could have license under a different name, but this is name Joe listed in census.)

Exhibits:  Screenshot of USDA search showing no one by that name and a screen shot of Joe’s facebook page showing that she is not a friend of his there

12) 8/26/11 Joe claims to have sent a tiger to Tammy Thompson in TX

Tammy Thompson had been dead for more than a year, if it was the same Tammy Thompson who had been a big cat collector since the 1990s.

Now might be a good time to note that Joe uses Brian Rhyne to set up companies and accounts because Brian Rhyne has been dead for years too.

Exhibits:  There is a Tammy Tomson in USDA records. I have a 2010 notation in AbandonedAnimals.xls where her husband called me saying she had died and needed to place her leopard but the phone number is no longer any good

13) 2005 Joe sold three lion cubs to the Amarillo Zoo, TX for $1500 each

Exhibits: 2008 USDA Consent Order which terminated Mr Azzopardi’s license at the Amarillo Zoo after he was found guilty in 2006 of a federal crime involving the interstate trading in endangered clouded leopards and a white tiger,  PeTA factsheet, 4 pages of bad reviews from TripAdvisor

USDA inspections revealed:

Animals standing in mud and waste

Insecure exotic cat caging

14) Capitol of Texas Zoo, Cedar Creek, TX

Cited by USDA for :

Keeping animals in dark or dimly lit quarters

Filthy conditions, incl cages full of matted fur and feces

Lack of barricades

Lack of perimeter fence

Unsafe cages

Improper diets

Escaped animals

Exhibits:  USDA inspections 2007-2011, PeTA factsheet

15) Dade City’s Wild Things

Joe sold cub born around July 7, 2010 for $5000.

(We submitted FOIA request to get import permits from FWC but not arrived)

Exhibits:  TBO article 9/14/10 indicating 9 week old white cub came from GW Park and Joe deposition on venue where he says he sold it to her for $5000.  USDA inspections 2007-2012, 20 photos of wretched conditions, a visitor’s report of deplorable conditions for the cats, LookOut Mtn lawsuit and Dept Ag complaint that includes is, foreclosure and bankruptcy documents, mug shots from bad check charge and a Yelp 2 star rating.

USDA inspections included:

Failure to provide vet care to injured animals

Lack of shelter for tigers

Dilapidated big cat cages

Unsafe handling of dangerous animals with the public

Rusty serval cage

Nails protruding in tiger cages

Poor drainage causing the cats to wade in deep water and mud after rain

Inadequate perimeter fence

Lack of barricades

Refusal to allow inspections

Recently lost lawsuit and ordered to return two gibbons to rightful owners.

Reportedly under investigation by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs.  Arrested for bad check charges, has multiple entities and multiple bankruptcies.

16) 7/22/2008 Joe sent two tiger cubs to Nay Aug Zoo, PA aka Genesis

Sent two cubs here in the same year that Time Magazine ranked this the fourth worst zoo in the country.  The zoo closed in 2009, one year after the cubs arrived. The Nay Aug director noted that one cub came with a case of ringworm that she had been fighting for months and that the cub appears to have a compromised immune system.  Director said she had to “donate” to GW to reserve the cubs.

Exhibits:  News articles about the cubs coming to Nay Aug and the zoo closing, photos of the decrepit cages.

17) 1/30/11 Joe transferred a white tiger cub to Bill Rutherford of Wild Bill’s, OK

Exhibits:  Facebook post by Wild Bill about it, screenshot shows no USDA license

18) 10/15/11 Stapps Circle S Ranch

Exhibits:  USDA inspection June 2011, news article about the 2010 cats, news article about 8 week old cub Aug 2011.

USDA inspection contained:

The three tigers were being fed improperly and that the adult tigers had suffered metabolic bone disease as a result

Foreign Zoos where Joe sent cats

19) Joe shipped 2 cougars to Zoological Park Organization, Thailand

Exhibits:  PeTA factsheet, document stating that the name above is not the name of a zoo, but is an organization of zoos, so we don’t know exactly where the cat ended up, two photos of people posing with adult tigers and photo of rampant tiger poaching in Thailand, 3 pages of bad TripAdvisor reviews for Thailand’s Phuket Zoo

20) 2000 Joe shipped a cougar to Seoul Grand Park Zoo, Korea

Exhibits:  PeTA factsheet, 4 photos of stark conditions at the zoo, a journalist’s review of the zoo, along with photos showing it to be a miserable place for animals

21) Joe shipped a cougar to Sophia Municipal Zoo, Bulgaria

Exhibits:  PeTA factsheet and three articles showing barren cages and discussing the lack of funding for heating and animal care due to Bulgaria’s political unrest

22) Joe sent 2 eleven month old tigers to Ryan Easley Show Me Tigers Circus on 1/28/12

Exhibits:  USDA reports from 2011 and 2012 citing that animals were living in transport cages and some cages were unsafe.  Also that the animals had cuts on them.

23) Joe claimed Exchange/Transfer to Jamie Palazzo on 9/25/09

Exhibits:  USDA order fining Palazzo $10,000 and suspending license for three years on 5/10/10 in a lawsuit that had been pending since 2007.  Many 2009-2010 USDA inspections showing a lack of proper vet care, no shot records and many repeated violations.

24) Joe claimed to donate 2 Siberian Tigers to Teresa Shaffer on 9/26/09

Exhibits:  USDA inspections from 2010 and 2011 showing that animals were being kept in incompatible groups and not providing proper dens and shelter.

25) Joe claimed to donate two 7 mo old bears to Dodge City Zoo on 10/08/11

Exhibits:  TripAdvisor visitor reviews only give this “zoo” 3 out of 5 stars and 3 USDA inspections from 2010 and 2011 stating that cages were in poor repair, insufficient shelter or dens and dangerous gaps in rusty cages.

26) Joe claimed to donate 6 adult lions and 2 adult bears to Gregg Woody 11/11/08

Exhibits:  8 bad USDA inspections from 2010-2012 including a bear biting a keeper, lack of proper barriers, cats kept in transport wagons, cages too small and dilapidated, no shelter for big cats, sharp edges in cages, lack of vet care and refusing to allow access for inspections.  Joe’s census says that he loaned Gregg Woody a white tiger cub DOB 4/17/11 (Galiath x Norma Gene) who died while in his care. No transfer USDA form, nor health certificate on this cub, but it is likely that he sent the cub to be a photo prop, which means the cub had probably already died before Joe sent Woody 6 more lions and 2 bears.

27) Joe transferred 2 6mo old tigers to Sue Pearce in FL on 11/5/11

Exhibits:  6 bad USDA inspections in just 2011 and 2012 including repeated violations on 12 issues, dead lemurs found, spoiled meat, platforms are chewed and clawed and splintered, and failure to provide proper vet care and follow up care.

She was later shut down due to conditions there.

28) Charlotte Turton  claims to have paid Joe for 4 day old cub 5/6/2009

Exhibits:  Charlotte does not have a USDA license under her name.  Charlotte’s facebook photos and text saying:  Charlotte Turton aah i thought you knew… I adopted this baby when she was only 4 days old from a cat sanctuary in Oklahoma. I got to play with her for about a month and a half then she went out on the road with the traveling magic show.. then without letting me know they gave her to a facility in Illinois. if you look through my albums you can see her pics from day 4 forward

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