A one-time employee of the infamous Joe Exotic’s Oklahoma zoo said that law enforcement is likely to file new charges against more people — if investigators examine the web of those involved in animal cruelty crimes exposed by the Netflix series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”
According to Saffrey, Exotic — whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage — was motivated above all else by greed and that he bred tigers with the purpose of selling their offspring, which is illegal. When the animals did not serve that purpose, they became expendable.
Saffrey said that Maldonado-Passage shot animals without remorse, estimating that he killed approximately 100 animals over a 10-year period while Saffrey was employed at the park.
“It was something he did and then went on with his day. If you didn’t hear the gunshot or if you didn’t see the gun, you would have never [known] what happened until you realize that Tiger is missing.”
“Is it true that part of your duties [were] getting the animals, the tigers, over to the side of the cage [where] Joe Exotic shot them?” Grace asked Saffrey.
“That’s true,” Saffrey said. “I mean, he could never get them to the side of the cage no matter how hard he tried. So, yeah, it’s true that that was asked of the employees. I never did it.”
“I was a part of the problem as far as being their own park when I knew it was going on,” he admitted.
“Joe wanted those babies,” Saffrey explained. “He bred those tigers for a reason. He wanted those babies away from their mom. And if you can imagine anyone trying to take your babies away from you and how you would react — imagine that in a 400-pound tiger.”
“Did it ever concern him that that is against the law to sell those baby tigers?” Grace asked.
“Obviously, as we can tell where he sits right now, I don’t think he thought the law applied to him,” Saffrey said.
A trial jury was presented evidence that Maldonado-Passage shot and killed five tigers in October 2017, without a veterinarian present and in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
“The staff had to know what was going on and enable it — other people owning, working, unlicensed zoos,” Grace continued.
“Do you think you’re [sic] going to be more charges down the road?” she asked.
“I’m sure if they dig deep enough, they’re going to find a lot more players in this,” Saffrey said. “Yes. I mean, the entire animal industry is connected.”
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