Unlike seemingly everyone else in the world, Joe Maldonado-Passage (better known as Joe Exotic) has not actually seen Tiger King, although he knows quite a bit about in the series. However, in a new interview with Entertainment Tonight, the former zookeeper's husband Dillon Passage revealed that Joe Exotic doesn't know Travis' death is featured in Tiger King. Obviously, since Maldonado-Passage is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence, he hasn't been able to watch the hit Netflix series, but Passage has kept him updated on the public reaction to the documentary.
"He knows how popular it is," the 24-year-old, who married Maldonado-Passage in 2017, told the outlet. "He has guards showing him all the memes and he absolutely loved it. He's glad that his story's out there." While the pair are generally happy with the way that Tiger King portrayed their story, Passage did admit that there was one thing that he thought should have been excluded from the final cut: namely, the sudden death of Maldonado-Passage's husband, Travis Maldonado. "I feel like some things shouldn't have been shown in the docuseries, like Travis' accident in the office," Passage explained.
In 2017, Maldonado's death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound was indirectly captured on security camera footage, and that footage is shown in the series from the perspective of a co-worker. However, Passage has purposely avoided telling his husband about that shocking scene, in order to protect the former zookeeper. "I feel like that was very personal to Joe and that it was used for an emotional purpose and to get people more drawn in to the show," he told ET.
"I don't think that's fair to Travis. He probably would not have wanted that put all over the world," Passage continued. "And I didn't tell [Joe] that it was in there. I feel like he's definitely gonna be upset about it, so it's best that he doesn't know."
Despite that one scene, Passage reiterated that he "really enjoyed" watching Tiger King and feels the series is "like 93 percent" accurate to real life. "[The filmmakers] were really honest with me from the get go," he said, adding that directors Rebecca Chaiklin and Eric Goode pitched him documentary by telling him it would "be about the big cat underworld" and that they wanted to see cub selling [and] cub petting" among everything else. "I don't feel taken advantage," Passage said, possibly referencing the complaints of some of the documentary's other stars, like Jeff Lowe and Carole Baskin.
"They told Joe's story true as can be," Passage said. "Maybe they left out some of his more sensitive character aspects and kind of made him seem like more of an angry person who was yelling all the time." However, the 24-year-old did acknowledge that Maldonado-Passage is "definitely a wild character and he was very outspoken and he wasn't scared to share his opinion. And I feel like they showed [that]."
In an earlier interview with Andy Cohen for his SiriusXM radio show, Passage revealed that watching Tiger King for the first time taught him a lot of things he didn't know about Maldonado-Passage. "The producers, they put the story together very, very well, I think," Passage explained. "They stayed true to the entire storyline. And I even learned a lot of things I didn't know about Carole and Joe's feud, because I try to stay out of his business."
All in all, it seems like both Passage and Maldonado-Passage are pleased with Tiger King and the way its raised awareness for the former zookeeper's story, even if there were a couple of things they would have changed.
If you or someone you know is considering self-harm or experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.