Travis Maldonado was Joe Exotic's partner before his accidental death.
Travis Maldonado was Joe Exotic's partner before his accidental death.

Truth behind horror Tiger King scene

Netflix's smash docu-series Tiger King included plenty of shocking scenes - like the jaw-dropping moment Joshua Dial witnessed the accidental shooting death of Travis Maldonado, a husband of Joe Exotic.

In the after show, The Tiger King And I, Dial - who was at the time the manager of Joe Exotic's longshot Oklahoma 

Travis Maldonado and Joe Exotic.
Travis Maldonado and Joe Exotic.


"I was looking at him in the eyes when he did it and I could see the surprise and the fear in his eyes," Dial explained.

"Basically translated, he's like: 'Oh crap, what did I just do. Maybe five seconds of his eyes I could read it and then he was gone.

"We were talking, he was telling me about his gun. Joe just bought him a Ruger. He said, 'You know a Ruger won't fire without a clip', and I said, 'Really?', and he said: 'Yeah'.

"Right then, he put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger to prove to me it wouldn't fire without a clip. However, it must have had one in the chamber."

Travis Maldonado, Joe Exotic and John Finlay's wedding. Picture: Netflix
Travis Maldonado, Joe Exotic and John Finlay's wedding. Picture: Netflix

 

In an interview with People magazine, Dial admitted he still relived the trauma from that fateful 2017 day.

"I definitely have PTSD. There was no preparation for what I saw in that office," he said.

"It was so shocking. I have nightmares about it."

When Maldonado walked into Dial's office at Joe Exotic's Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park just before accidentally shooting himself, it was the second time the 23-year-old had waved a gun at Dial that day.

Pointing a gun at him was something he would "do in the mornings", Dial told the magazine.

"The second he pulled the trigger, I knew he was dead," he said. "You don't come back from something like that."

Dial is still so distraught from witnessing Maldonado's death that a GoFundMe page has been created to help pay for counselling for him that he says he can't afford.

"I don't want to have to ask for help, but I know that everything I went through, especially working over a-year-and-a-half looking at that bullet hole thousands of times, I need help," he told People.

According to the fundraising page, which was created by the hosts of a Libertarian podcast Dial appeared on, watching Maldonado's death wasn't the only aspect of working with Joe Exotic that's still haunting him: the aftermath is, too.

Dial alleges that Joe Exotic, aka Joe Maldonado-Passage, forced him to watch videos of one of the zoo's tigers attacking zoo staffer Saff, who ended up losing her arm.

"From Joe forcing him to watch videos of Saff's arm being torn off as penance to rumours on the internet that he had something to do with it. This guy has been through it all," the page said.

Nearly all of the $US5000 ($A7880) goal for Dial's counselling has been reached, and an update earlier this week said he "has found a provider and is currently being seen".

This article originally appeared on the NY Post and was reproduced with permission

Originally published as Truth behind horror Tiger King scene



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