Utter the name Joe Exotic in mixed company, and you’re likely to receive a wide array of reactions.
To some, he’s the comical figure from that simpler time several months ago when the coronavirus pandemic seemed but a momentary distraction.
To others, he’s an animal-abusing, drug addicted monster who deserves to spend his remaining days behind bars.
And then there’s that third group who sees Exotic as a tragic figure — the product of substance abuse and a deeply unhappy childhood, whose erratic behavior was part of an effort to mask the pain and trauma he’s endured for the entirety of his life.
And it seems it’s that segment of Tiger King viewers that Joe is hoping to appeal to with his latest open letter from prison.
As you’re probably aware, Exotic is serving a 22-year sentence on animal cruelty and murder for hire charges.
He’s claimed that innocent, and he’s claimed that he’s been framed.
He’s begged Donald Trump for a presidential pardon, thus far, to no avail.
(Trump has stated that he’ll consider pardoning Exotic, but then again — he says a lot of things.)
Now, Exotic is issuing an appeal directly to the people with an open letter in which he begs to be released.
"Just would like to be my own voice for a change," Exotic began his letter, which was obtained by TMZ on Monday.
"Thank you all so very much for the support and love from all around the world," the controversial former zookeeper continued.
"The pandemic is over and now I ask you to ask President Trump to keep his word and look into making this wrong a right and grant me a miricle [sic]."
Of course, Trump never promised to pardon Exotic, nor did he indicate he would revisit the 57-year-old’s appeal once the pandemic started to subside.
But as the rest of his letter indicates, Joe is getting desperate, and he’ll clearly do anything he can to become a free man.
At one point in the letter, he claims he’ll soon be dead if he is not released from prison.
"My soul is dead,” he wrote. “I struggle every day to hold on to what little hope I can find.”
Exotic went on to remind fans that he suffers from anemia and an auto-immune disease that requires frequent blood transfusions.
He claims he has not received a transfusion since January.
“I’m loosing [sic] weight, sores won’t heal, I’ll be dead in 2-3 months,” he wrote.
“It’s like I have been sent to death row.”
From there, Exotic bizarrely compared his plight to that of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who was murdered by police in March.
“It’s like George Floyd. His message got lost on the riots, my message got abandon [sic] for money and fame,” Exotic continued.
Exotic was convicted of hiring a hitman to murder his professional rival, Carole Baskin.
The strange feud between the two big cat enthusiasts was chronicled on the wildly popular Netflix docuseries Tiger King.
Interestingly, Baskin was back in the news last week, as she took over the zoo that was once owned by Exotic as a result of a court ruling.
That development doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Joe’s desperate desire to be free.
Rather, it seems that desperation has been a constant since the time of his arrest.
We’ll have further updates on this developing story as more information becomes available.