TAMPA, Fla. -- A man accused of hiring someone to murder the CEO of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa has been arrested in Santa Rosa County, according to the animal rescue organization. 

  • Man accused of hiring to murder Big Cat Rescue CEO arrested
  • Joe Schreibvogel Maldonado-Passage charged with murder for hire
  • Suspect, aka "Exotic Joe," made threats against CEO Carole Baskin online

Joe Schreibvogel Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Exotic Joe,” was arrested on Sept. 7 after being indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for putting a hit out on Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue. 

Baskin said Exotic Joe's anger toward her started years ago when he was running Roadside Cub Petting Zoos in Oklahoma and bringing tigers to malls throughout the country.

Baskin said Big Cat Rescue educated those malls about his business and the risks she believes the animals face in those environments. Afterward, the malls started canceling his exhibits. 

“A significant part of our mission has to been to stop the mistreatment and exploitation of big cats at roadside zoos, particularly those who rip tiger cubs from their mothers at birth to charge the public to pet and take photos with them,” Baskin stated. 

Baskin said Exotic Joe changed his zoo's name to Big Cat Rescue Entertainment so people would think his business was associated with the Tampa organization. 

In 2011, Baskin filed a lawsuit against the man for using the rescue's name. She was granted more than one million dollars but litigation has been ongoing ever since. 

Exotic Joe is also accused of making threats against Baskin on social media, including a video he posted showing him shooting a blow up doll, dressed like Baskin, in the head. In the video he talks about how he better never see Baskin again and how he's fed up. 

Baskin said he is not the only one to threaten her over the years. 

“Because Big Cat Rescue has been a leader in working to stop what we view as abuse of big cats, and we have been very effective in our work, I have received multiple death threats over the years, including at one point a number of snakes placed in my mailbox.”

Joe Schreibvogel Maldonado-Passage, who resides in Gulf Breeze, FL, now faces two counts of murder for hire.