It turns out Tiger King’s Joe Exotic might not be looking out for the animals after all. The 57-year-old would allegedly “kill” his big cats if he “didn’t have enough room in the cages for the tigers he liked most,” Robert Moor, a journalist who covered Joe’s story, exclusively tells In Touch.

“He was convicted of shooting five tigers. That we know for sure, but other people have said he shot even more,” the “Joe Exotic: Tiger King” podcast host says. “Joe would just say he only euthanized tigers if they were in so much pain that they didn’t want to live anymore, that’s a very rancher mentality. Joe’s a farm kid, he grew up on a farm.”

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“We shouldn’t forget that the greatest victims of all are the thousands of tigers trapped in cages and the many tigers that Joe Exotic shot in the head over the years,” Robert says. As for the tigers Joe showed mercy to, they were typically “an interesting breed or were giving birth to babies, which is what he needed to make money,” he explains. “If they were just old and not a productive or profitable tiger, he would kill it. That’s something he was doing.”

Additionally, Robert alleges Joe harmed other cats — including small ones. “He basically starved a bunch of house cats to death too.”

Although Joe was passionate about cats in his early days as a zookeeper, Robert believes his formative years negatively impacted the course of his life. “He was an animal lover at one point. He was a bullied, gay kid growing up in Kansas and Wyoming, who rescued animals his whole life and loved animals. Over time, once he opened the zoo, he just lost sight of that. And it really turned him into a monster.” He adds, “That’s the great tragedy of Joe Exotic’s life.”

The former presidential candidate was arrested in September 2018 for plotting to kill his enemy Carole Baskin. He was also convicted for several animal abuse crimes including killing five tigers, illegally breeding exotic animals and selling or attempting to sell tigers without a federal permit. He was found guilty of 21 counts in April 2019 and sentenced to 22 years in federal prison on January 22.

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