The life of Joe Exotic is like a Salvador Dali painting: the longer you look at it, the stranger it gets. When Tiger King came out in 2020, those who didn’t know Joe got a crash course. Sure, he owned a private zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. However, that was just the tip of the iceberg. He was also a gun and explosive enthusiast who had a short political career. Additionally, the world learned that Exotic’s love life was as wild as his animals. If you watched the show, you remember the polygamist wedding scene. On top of that, Joe was the country music version of Milli Vanilli, with his lip-synced country albums. Now, we’ve learned that he was also a police officer. Just wow.
Texas Monthly reported that Joe Exotic, then Joe Schreibvogel, joined the police force fresh out of high school. He patrolled the relatively calm streets of Eastvale, Texas. By the time he was 19, the future Tiger King star landed the rank of Chief of Police. The publication notes “Only a few officers worked under him, and serious crimes were rare,” in the small town.
Tiger King skipped over the fact that Joe Exotic was a police officer, for some reason. However, Newsweek notes that Exotic opened up about his time on the force in the documentary called Louis Theroux Meets America’s Dangerous Pets. During that documentary, he admitted that he was a “weird cop.”
Ronnie O’Neal, a sergeant under Joe Exotic said that Joe patrolled the streets of Eastvale in a Tans-Am. However, that wasn’t the only odd thing about his cruiser. O’Neal said his lights were blue and green, making Exotic look like a Christmas tree rolling down the street.
Joe Exotic: The Wrong King of Full-Circle
In a way, Joe Exotic’s story is a tragic one. Those who watched Tiger King learned that he opened his zoo because he loved animals, especially tigers. Now, we’re learning that Joe also loved the letter of the law at one point. Things just kind of fell apart over the years.
Somewhere along the way, Joe Exotic broke bad. He went from a young Chief of Police to one of America’s most famous criminals. His poor treatment and trafficking of animals along with hiring a hitman to kill Carole Baskin landed him in prison. Today, Joe is doing a 22-year sentence in the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. That prison camp is less than an hour away from the place where he was the head of law enforcement.
No matter how you look at it, Joe Exotic definitely lived up to his name. His life has been a wild journey from a police cruiser to prison bars.