Tiger King’s Joe Exotic claims he was the victim of a homophobic witch hunt in mammoth $94 million lawsuit

Tiger King star Joe Exotic

Jailed Tiger King star Joe Exotic has claimed that he has been persecuted for being gay in a sprawling lawsuit against the federal government.

The Oklahoma exotic animal keeper is currently serving 22 years in prison for a litany of offences including the illegal trade of wildlife, violations of the Endangered Species Act, and a murder-for-hire plot to kill Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue.

However, he continues to maintain his innocence – and in a mammoth lawsuit filed in federal court, alleges he has been subject to civil rights violations, false arrest, false imprisonment, and selective enforcement.

The US Department of Interior and US Fish and Wildlife Service are both named in the lawsuit, seeking $73,840,000 in damages for loss of personal property relating to his zoo, in addition to $15 million relating to his conviction.

Joe Exotic claims he was targeted ‘because he is an openly gay male with largest tiger collection’.

The zoo keeper, real name Joseph Schreibvogel Maldonado-Passage, claims he was targeted “because [he] is an openly gay male with the largest collection of generic tigers and crossbreeds”, according to documents obtained by People.

He alleges that a wildlife agent “knowingly accepted statements he knew were false, allowing his witnesses to lie under oath. Misleading a grand jury and not seeking the truth to further an animal rights agenda. False arrest, entrapment, false imprisonment, all contributing to my mother’s death”.

Tiger King star Joe Exotic

Tiger King star Joe Exotic

Maldonado-Passage also alleges that the government put a “generic” tiger on the endangered species list in order to facilitate charges against him.

Business partner shown in Tiger King  is named in suit.

His former business partner Jeff Lowe is also named in the suit, accused of filing false statements.

Maldonado-Passage claims: “He was the main person in this entrapment scheme to take my zoo for free. Changed my medicine with illegal drugs, stole my animals under fraudulent reasons.”

However, Jeff Lowe’s wife Lauren Lowe told People they are not concerned about the suit. She said: “Joe abandoned all these cats. We spend countless dollars just trying to bring these guys back up to health and making sure they get the best food they can get and healthcare too.”

It was recently revealed that one of the key participants in the Tiger King documentary is a transgender man who was consistently misgendered by others in the park.