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'Tiger King's' Joe Exotic tests positive for COVID-19

Joe Exotic has tested positive for COVID-19.

His lead attorney, John M. Phillips, posted on Facebook Sunday that the former Oklahoma zookeeper is recovering.

"I just spoke to Joseph A. Maldonado," the Jacksonville, Florida, attorney wrote. "Sounded better than he's sounded in days. He's still in Oklahoma. Should be transferred to North Carolina once he's out of COVID protocol."

Joe Exotic was back in Oklahoma for his resentencing in his murder-for-hire case. His attorney last week described him in a social media post as "sick as hell."

He was resentenced to 21 years in federal prison, only one year less than his original sentence.

U.S. District Judge Scott Palk chose the new punishment at a hearing Jan. 28 in Oklahoma City federal court. Joe Exotic wore a mask throughout the hearing except when he addressed the judge.

The Oklahoman confirmed the positive test independently.

Joe Exotic became known worldwide after Netflix released "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness" at the start of the pandemic.

The documentary series about his life, case and his now closed zoo in Wynnewood became a breakout hit. He said at his resentencing that he's never seen it. A sequel was released in November.

He was convicted at trial in 2019 of hiring hit men to kill his chief critic, Carole Baskin, and of crimes involving his animals. He maintains he was set up.

His attorneys have said their next step will be to file a motion for a new trial.

The former big cat breeder has early-stage prostate cancer and other underlying health conditions that make getting COVID-19 more dangerous. He is 58.

He was at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, before being moved to a jail in Shawnee for his resentencing. He said at his resentencing he will begin radiation treatments for his prostate cancer when he returns to North Carolina.

"COVID finally caught me and I've been sick for a couple days," Joe Exotic told fans in a Twitter post Saturday. "I'm also taking medication for heart issues now."

Joe Exotic was born Joseph Allen Schreibvogel but his name has changed over the years depending on his marital status. His lead attorney says he now prefers to go by Joseph Maldonado.

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