About Joe Exotic
Joe Schreibvogel was born in Garden City Kansas in 1963 where he lived and grew up on a farm until the age of 13 years of age. Joe was very active in 4-H where he was the president of his local chapter and won several awards in parliamentary procedures. Raising and showing all kinds of animals from racing pigeons, chickens, turkeys, and steers, he began his life of loving animals.
In 1976 Joe's family sold the farm and moved to a large cattle ranch in Centennial Wyoming where Joe joined the volunteer fire department at the age of 14 and was involved in fighting many forest fires. During the time of seeing the devastation of what a fire can do to the wildlife and their homes, he began rescuing all kinds of wildlife. Once he obtained a permit from the State of Wyoming, some of his first animals to rescue and raise included a baby Antelope, porcupines, raccoons, and squirrels.
Moving on with his parents who at this time raced race horses, his family bought a horse ranch in Pilot Point Texas, in 1980 and Joe finished his last two years of high school. Moving from Wyoming to Texas Joe had enough credits to graduate early and attended Cooke County Collage during his last year of high school for Medical School. Joe became an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician ) and volunteered on a local ambulance service.
At the age of 19 Joe's life took a huge turn in the professional world, owning his own ambulance service and joining the police force in Eastvale Texas. Texas law at that time allowed you to be a police officer for one year before you had to complete the police academy and before that year was up Joe was appointed Police Chief and went through the academy as the youngest Police Chief in Texas history.
Having a motor vehicle accident in 1985 while on duty involving a hit and run ended the career as a police officer leaving Joe in the hospital in traction for 56 days and in back and leg braces for the next 5 years.
In 1986 Joe went to work for an exotic pet store called Pet Safari’s in Arlington Texas where Joe, his other half Brian and his brother become owners of the store just months later. Now owning his own exotic pet store Joe became licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture and began a life of working with exotics such as lions, tigers, lemurs and many other species of exotic animals. Growing to be the largest exotic pet store in the state the store reached 40,000 sq ft for the next 11 years.
In 1997 devastation hit when Joe’s Brother (G.W.) was hit south of Dallas Texas by a drunk driver leaving him on life support for 7 days before Joe made the decision to shut it off and let him go on October 14, 1997. The promise to his brother was made not to let him die without a cause so Joe, Brian, and Joe’s parents sold the pet store and bought some property in Wynnewood Oklahoma where they began building the G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Foundation for un-wanted exotic animals. The park opened its doors on October 14, 1999. Soon hundreds of animals started coming in from all over the nation.
2001 devastation hit once again when Brian became ill and died in the parking lot of the Norman Regional Hospital in Norman Oklahoma, leaving Joe to carry on the goal of keeping the park going alone. By this time the park has grown into a huge undertaking that houses over 40 tigers and lions, along with bears, lemurs, exotic birds, camels, exotic deer, and over 100 other species of animals.
2004 Joe met John Finlay who later became partners in life for the next 8 years to present. Making the park one of the largest accredited facilities in the world now housing over 170 tigers and lions and 128 species of animals the G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Foundation has been overwhelmed with honors. Joe learned to do magic and has toured the Nation, Canada and Mexico for the past 9 years performing to millions. Joe now has two shows on the road, a educational exhibit with tigers and other exotics, a magic show called illusions of the night, and his own internet television station located right in the middle of the animal park. He has been given the honor of being Oklahoma’s animal response team for the Oklahoma emergency disaster service, and spends most of his time traveling all over the nation educating and helping other zoos, private owners with exotics better themselves and the care of their animals.