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"Tiger King" star Joe Exotic says he has "aggressive cancer"

"48 Hours Suspicion": The Tiger King Mystery
"48 Hours Suspicion": The Tiger King Mystery 42:45

"Tiger King" star Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado, has revealed he has an aggressive cancer. "Doctors called me in today to break the news that my prostate biopsy came back with an aggressive cancer, Carole Will have her own party over this!" his account tweeted, referring to fellow "Tiger King" alum Carole Baskin.

Maldonado is currently in prison for a murder-for-hire plot against rival Baskin, who, like him, raised big cats — the subject of the "Tiger King" docu-series. He was convicted in 2019 on 21 counts: Two for hiring hitmen to kill Baskin, and 19 counts of wildlife crimes. In 2020, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison. 

He was re-sentenced earlier this year, which is the result of two charges being improperly separated, but the convictions still stand. 

Maldonado's lawyer, John M. Phillips, who also tweeted about his client's cancer said in a statement to CBS News that on Monday, they "had an emotional call from prison." 

"Joe informed me that his fears were true," Phillips said in the statement. "He had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. As noted in Joe's recent statements, he has been undergoing medical treatment and tests for a host of issues."

"The PSA test is a blood test used primarily to screen for prostate cancer. It was high months ago. He finally obtained biopsies. They revealed cancer. Medical care is different in a prison environment and fewer options are available," the statement reads.

He said Maldonado "is one of the most passionate, full of life, clients" he has have ever represented.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men, after skin cancer. About 1 man in 9 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.

Prostate cancer might not require immediate treatment, and options for treatment depend on several factors, such as how quickly the cancer is growing, according to the Mayo Clinic. Treatment methods include radiation therapy, freezing prostate tissue and removing the prostate gland.

In a handwritten letter Maldonado shared on Twitter, he said he is still awaiting more test results and doesn't want anyone's pity. "What I need is the world to be my voice to be released," he wrote. 

The new season of "Tiger King" is set to premiere on Netflix November 17. Baskin, the owner of a tiger sanctuary in Florida, has filed a lawsuit against the streaming platform over the use of her image in the upcoming sequel. Baskin is demanding Netflix remove any mention of her name and her sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue.

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