'Tiger King' star Joe Exotic is in COVID-19 isolation in prison, husband says

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka Joe Exotic, is in isolation in prison amid coronavirus concerns.

Exotic is the breakout star of Netflix’s Tiger King, a seven-part documentary that looks at the former zookeeper’s life and crimes. He’s currently serving 22 years behind bars for his role in a murder-for-hire scheme against Carole Baskin, owner of animal sanctuary Big Cat Rescue. He was also found guilty of violating the Endangered Species Act after he killed five tigers.

Exotic’s husband, Dillon Passage, called in to SiriusXM’s Andy Cohen Live on Wednesday and revealed he is in quarantine.

“We speak, like, three to five times every day,” Passage told Cohen. “But since he’s been moved to this new facility they are putting him on, like, COVID-19 isolation because of the previous jail he was at, there were cases. So I have yet to speak to him since he’s been moved.”

“Joe Exotic is in his own COVID-19 quarantine right now?” Cohen asked.

“From what I know, yes,” Passage replied.

Exotic was recently moved from the Grady County Jail in Oklahoma to Federal Medical Center, a 1,500-inmate facility in Fort Worth, Texas. When contacted by Yahoo Entertainment Wednesday, a spokesperson for the prison said “this information is not public.”

Entertainment Tonight reports Exotic was isolated as a safety precaution upon his arrival at the prison. During the 14-day quarantine, he’s apparently not allowed to make any telephone calls or check and send emails.

The quarantine is now standard procedure as the Bureau of Prisons announced that beginning Wednesday, inmates will be confined to their cells for a two-week period. There are exceptions for programs and services like mental health treatment and education.

Passage, 24, and Exotic, 57, wed in 2017. They connected in Oklahoma on the dating app Grindr and decided to get married “a little over two weeks” after meeting, he told Cohen.

“Definitely jumped the gun,” Passage admitted, “but I’m not ashamed of it.”

Passage, who is Exotic’s fourth husband, confirmed they are still married.

“I do love Joe, he’s been there for me through my darkest times, you know,” he said Wednesday. “I’m not just going to dip out and abandon him when he needs me most.”

Although Exotic is the same age as Passage’s mother, he said his parents “were cool” with the marriage.

“They weren’t judgmental,” Passage told Cohen.

Netflix’s Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness has taken pop culture by storm. While many of the characters in the documentary — like Carole Baskin, Doc Antle and Jeff Lowe — are upset with how they were portrayed, Passage found the show interesting.

“The producers, they put the story together very, very well I think,” Passage shared. “They stayed true to the entire storyline and I even learned a lot of things that I didn't even know about Carole and Joe's feud.”

As for Exotic, Tiger King filmmaker Eric Goode said he's “ecstatic.”

“Joe is ecstatic. He’d call from time to time, from jail. He’s been transferred to a federal penitentiary in Fort Worth. I lost communication — I think he had to go into quarantine because of the virus — but up until about three days ago, he was communicating with us,” Goode told the New York Times. “And thoroughly enjoying his 15 minutes of fame.”

Goode also defended the series saying they didn’t exploit the people involved.

“We tried very hard to be honest and fair with all of the subjects in the story. Some of them are bigger than life, for sure,” he said. “They told me what they told me and some of that landed in the series. Of course we wanted to bring out each character’s unique qualities.”

Watch: City of Minneapolis uses Tiger King stars Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin to teach people about social distancing:

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides.

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