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Joe Exotic ‘isn’t afraid to die’ from cancer battle and remains ‘cautiously hopeful’

Joe Exotic is feeling ‘cautiously hopeful’ that he’ll be vindicated in the upcoming Tiger King 2 series, which is set to launch on Netflix later this month.

The former zookeeper is currently in isolation at Fort Worth, Texas, where he is serving a 22-year prison sentence for animal abuse charges and the murder-for-hire plot against his rival Carole Baskin.

Although Exotic, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, hasn’t had access to watch the first chapter of the wild docu-series, which arrived during the first lockdown in March 2020, a source exclusively told he is keeping his fingers crossed that the next instalment will help his bid for freedom.

The insider, who has regular contact with the controversial star, also voiced concern over his health as he continues to battle cancer, shared details of his current feelings towards Baskin and the rest of the Tiger King cast, and gave an update on his relationship status. He’s very hopeful about Tiger King 2 in the sense that maybe he’ll finally be vindicated, and I do know his attorney has very actively been getting affidavits,’ they told us.

‘If they follow that storyline then there’s a very good chance that in the public eye people will realize he was set up and shouldn’t be there. I think Joe is cautiously optimistic that the truth will come out.’

Exotic was recently told that he has ‘aggressive cancer’ after receiving the results of a prostate biopsy.

Giving an insight into his health, the insider expressed concern that he’s not getting the treatment he needs.

‘There are still more tests to be done and they’re still looking at the results of the last tests,’ they said. ‘They removed some polyps and he’s getting transfusions intermittently, not quite on the right schedule so that’s a concern.

‘It’s a tough place to be when you’re fighting any kind of illness. Even though it’s a medical facility, it’s not like being in hospital and being in isolation makes it even harder.

‘I have concern for his health, but miracles can happen, I’m always an optimist. Maybe Tiger King 2 will come out, the truth will be revealed, and something will happen to get him out. At least out on bail for a retrial.’

Despite his ill health, Exotic is not worried about the prospect of death. ‘He has a very strong faith. He’s lost a lot of people in his life,’ the insider said, referring to Exotic’s parents and his two late husbands, Brian Rhyne, who died of complications from HIV in 2001, and Travis Maldonado, who shot himself in 2017.

‘He is absolutely clear that he knows that all these people will be there for him when he goes. He’s not afraid to die because he’s looking forward to seeing all these people.’

That being said, Exotic has a will to survive and hopes to be able to clear his name and build a new legacy by helping children.

‘He’s a big supporter of Smile Train, a charity that helps children with cleft palates,’ was told. ‘He wants to go on a concert tour. He’s got loads of plans.’

One person who isn’t convinced by Exotic’s illness though is Baskin, who recently said of him: ‘He’s the little boy who has cried wolf so long that I don’t think anyone should believe a word he says.’ So, how does Exotic feel about his rival at this point in time? ‘He’s not feeling warm and fuzzy towards her,’ the insider revealed. ‘The first thing he’s going to do when he gets out is pay her the remainder of the judgement that is against him. He still owes her about $600,000 (£442,000)

‘He just wants her out of his life and he never wants to see her again.’ As for the rest of the Tiger King cast, Exotic is said to feel betrayed.

‘People that he took care of for years, they’ve never reached out to him,’ the source said. ‘Most of his biggest supporters are people who have never met him. I think that’s really kept him going.’ Exotic’s estranged husband Dillon Passage announced in March that the pair had decided to split after tying the knot in December 2017.

Dillon has since moved on with new partner John and Exotic has also found love in his life again.

‘He’s [Dylan] moved on and Joe’s moved on. He’s got a guy that he’s happy to be communicating with and developing a relationship with.’

Of course, Exotic has not yet been able to see his new lover and their romance is said to be ‘strictly emails and telephone calls’ at present. At the beginning of the year, Exotic’s lawyer told that there was a limo waiting for him near the prison as they awaited a pardon from outgoing president Donald Trump.

Sadly though, Exotic’s name never made the list.

‘He was very doubtful in the beginning about it, but then a lot of people kept pushing it,’ the insider said.

‘There was a lot of hype then all of a sudden he accepted that the pardon could actually happen and then it didn’t. That was a tough one for him.’

Exotic isn’t giving up hope on tasting freedom once again though. ‘He is tenacious and he does have a pretty strong spirit.’

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