Former zoo employee from Ohio doesn’t believe ‘Tiger King’ was guilty of murder-for-hire plot

Ohio native who worked with Joe Exotic opens up about infamous Netflix star

Ohio native discusses working with the Tiger King

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - While everybody is stuck inside, a Netflix docuseries is keeping millions of people entertained.

According to Nielsen, “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness,” reached over 34 million viewers within its first 10 days. It was released right in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak

Josh Bethel, an Ohio native, worked directly with Tiger King, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado Passage.

Bethel worked at his zoo in Oklahoma from 2009-2011, when he was known as “Joe Exotic.”

“Eventually, he ended up getting the name ‘Tiger King,’ because he would do shows with the big tigers. I mean, he would do music videos. He would put video footage of the park and we did a magic act, and we traveled all over the U.S. He always wanted to be famous, but I don’t think we were all expecting this,” said Bethel. “I think it’s the most entertaining thing on Netflix. It’s about a guy who owned a zoo plotting the murder of another woman that also owns a zoo."

Bethel is referring to Joe’s rival, Carol Baskin.

Joe was found guilty in that murder-for-hire plot and several other wildlife violations, and was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

“I don’t really think that he was guilty. I think he’s been set up. I know Joe personally, and I just don’t believe that he would do that. Especially, for $3,000,” said Bethel.

So, what does Bethel really think of Joe Exotic Tiger King, a man who keeps getting even more popular while serving a long prison sentence?

“He was really hard to work with for a lot of people. He had a big turnover rate because people didn’t like the way he treated them because he would scream. If you don’t like something, he would scream about it, but you had to know him to know that it’s just his passion. He wants to make sure everything is perfect,” Bethel said.

The millions of fans have heard the rumor that a season two is in the works.

Bethel is hoping that all the fans in his home state of Ohio will see him in at least one episode.

In the meantime, Netflix released an surprise eighth episode -- titled “The Tiger King and I.”

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