Joe Exotic Convicted for Murder for Hire & 17 Wildlife Trafficking Violations
I am grateful that justice was served and Joe Schreibvogel-Maldonado-Passage hopefully will serve time in prison and no longer present a threat either to me or to his former big cats. While media attention regarding this trial has primarily focused on the murder for hire charges, there is a much larger significance to the wildlife charges. For years, a network of big cat owners like Passage who have engaged in cruel cub petting schemes and the exhibition of big cats have also been engaging in the illegal sale of tigers and other animals back and forth among themselves simply by checking the box on the USDA transfer form that says “donated” instead of “sale” and quietly paying cash for the animals. During the trial, several big cat owners were specifically mentioned as people Passage had sold tigers to. We believe this illegal practice is common among cub breeders and exhibitors; Bhagavan Antle, Tim Stark, Bill Meadows, Mario Tabraue, Kathy Stearns, Robert Engesser, Jeff Lowe and Omar Villareal are some of the most notorious. I hope that the detailed evidence of these illegal transfers developed for this trial will lead to more prosecutions to protect captive big cats in this country from this illegal trade.
~ Carole Baskin, Founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue
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