Joe Exotic hosted plenty of guests at his G.W. Zoo over the years, including NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal.
The NBA legend, who made an unexpected appearance in Netflix’s hit docuseries “Tiger King,” recently addressed his 2014 experience at the Oklahoma park on “The Big Podcast with Shaq,” stating he actually “stopped going” upon learning about Exotic’s checkered activities.
“So we go in there, and it’s a beautiful place, and the character that was there was Exotic Joe. We’re there and I dropped some donations for the tigers’ foods and all that,” O’Neal detailed. “We take pictures with tigers. We went back a couple times.”
O’Neal, also a big cat enthusiast, continued: “Then we go back another time and we found out that he’s involved with all the stuff, and then, actually, I stopped going.”
Exotic was found guilty last year in a murder-for-hire plot on Florida rival Carole Baskin, an animal rights activist and owner of Big Cat Rescue. He was also accused of animal cruelty and is currently serving a 22-year sentence, recently seeking a presidential pardon.
O’Neal said Exotic is “not” his friend, and that he doesn’t “know him.”
“I don’t harm tigers. I love tigers. I love white tigers. Do I put donations to these zoos to help these tigers out? I do it all the time. Do I own tigers personally at my house? No. But I love tigers,” O’Neal said.
“Listen, people are going to make their own opinions, but, again, I was just a visitor. I met this guy — not my friend. Don’t know him. Never had any business dealings with him, and I had no idea any of that stuff was going on,” he continued.
O’Neal added that he has also binge-watched the doc on Netflix.
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