The Netflix documentary “Tiger King” has swept the nation over the past few weeks, as it feels like just about everyone is talking about it. Now, the niece of the documentary’s star Joe Exotic is speaking out to reveal some dark secrets from his past that is sure to shock fans.

Chealsi Putman told Daily Mail that her uncle is far eviler than he was portrayed in the show, saying that he is a conniving person who will take advantage of anyone to get his way.

“In the Tiger King Netflix series, you can see glimpses of his evil persona but in real-life Joe is 100 times worse. I want people to know who the real Joe Exotic is, not the one you’ve seen on TV,” she said.

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Joe previously ran the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma, but he is now serving a 22 year-prison sentence for conspiring to murder his nemesis Carole Baskin and for animal cruelty charges. Putman, 31, spent years working odd jobs around Joe Exotic’s zoo, so she got to see what went on there firsthand.

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“Our relationship was up and down, mainly because I wouldn’t put up with his bulls**t,” she explained. “I’ve personally witnessed Joe spray a tiger with a fire extinguisher, not out of safety or for a life-saving reason, but because the tiger didn’t react the way Joe had wanted it to.”

Putman also said that Joe Exotic sold countless baby tigers illegally.

“He would either take cash under the table for the sale of the tiger or if someone sent a check, it would be made out to another person, or if the money was wired to a store, it would be in another person’s name,” she said. “Joe always attempted to distance himself from any illegal activity, but he had no problem involving his employees in it.”

Putman was raised by her grandparents, Shirley and Frances, who she said she saw repeatedly connected by Joe.

“My grandparents were Joe’s personal slush fund,” she said, adding that Shirley “would receive monthly rental checks and that was the only time Joe would stop by their house was to pick up the checks. He would deposit some of the then in their bank accounts and others he would tell his parents that he cashed them and would pay them back later which he never did.”

Putman said that this was partly why she decided to help the FBI catch Joe, something that she said she has no regrets about because she thinks he belongs in prison.

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“If it would up to me, I would have sentenced him to life behind bars, he wouldn’t have ever seen the light of day,” she explained. “Joe’s a liar so I was worried that the jury may fall for the show that he puts on, but fortunately they saw through his BS and convicted him of all of the charges.”

Putman has not seen or spoken to Joe in two years, but she knows exactly what she’d say to him if she did ever see him again:

“I hope you rot in hell.”


This piece originally appeared in and is used by permission.

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