'Bottom of hell': 'Tiger King's' Joe Exotic complains of conditions inside Atlanta penitentiary

Joseph Maldonado-Passage seen in a Santa Rosa County Jail booking photo. (Santa Rosa County Jail)

"Tiger King" star Joe Exotic is speaking on what he's alleging is terrible conditions and treatment at the federal prison in Atlanta in which he is currently incarcerated.

Writing on Instagram Thursday, Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, described his life in the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta as the "bottom of hell."

"Senator Oshoff [sic], Warnock and Walker are all lying to you Black Voters of Georgia because the Animals at the Atlanta Zoo are living better then [sic] your loved ones are in here I promise," Maldonado-Passage.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prison, the 59-year-old star of the Netflix documentary "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness" is currently house at the federal penitentiary with a release date in 2036.

The former zookeeper was sentenced in January 2020 to 22 years in prison after he was convicted of trying to hire two different men to kill animal welfare activist Carole Baskin. A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Maldonado-Passage that the court should have treated them as one conviction at sentencing because they both involved the same goal of killing Baskin, who runs a rescue sanctuary for big cats in Florida and had criticized Maldonado-Passage’s treatment of animals.

Prosecutors said Maldonado-Passage offered $10,000 to an undercover FBI agent to kill Baskin during a recorded December 2017 meeting. In the recording, he told the agent, "Just like follow her into a mall parking lot and just cap her and drive off." Maldonado-Passage’s attorneys have said their client — who once operated a zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) south of Oklahoma City — wasn’t being serious.

Maldonado-Passage, who maintains his innocence, also was convicted of killing five tigers, selling tiger cubs and falsifying wildlife records.

The U,S, Penitentiary in Atlanta has itself been under investigation for 10 months by the Senate Homeland Security Committee's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The investigation, led by Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff, found evidence that the federal prison system has undermined public safety and jeopardized the health and safety of inmates and staff. The investigation also revealed a lack of oversight contributed to the loss of life. 

Former prison employees testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee in July that the Atlanta facility "was falling apart." Employees stated that when they tried to report facility issues or instances of staff misconduct, administrators never followed up with them.

Former staffers also reported ongoing problems with contraband including drugs, weapons and cell phones inside the facility as well.  

Speaking in October, Ossoff told reporters that he has seen some "encouraging signs of new leadership," at the prison, said but more work is needed.

"It's too soon to say yet whether those improvements have been delivered and secure," the senator said.

Ossoff says he will continue to push for positive change until he can say the issues at the federal prison have been resolved.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.