'Does your mom have Facebook?': Tiger King Joe Exotic's response to 12yo boy's letter prompts mixed reactions

A mother has shared a handwritten letter she says is from controversial former zoo owner Joe Exotic in response to a note sent to him in prison by her 12 year-old-son.

In his reply, the star of Netflix's docuseries Tiger King tells the young fan named Weston he loves him, to "stay in touch" and asks "does your mom have Facebook?", requesting that she share the petition to get him out of jail. 

Weston's mother Kristy Speigel Berringer uploaded photos of her son's correspondence with Exotic, real name Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, to the Free Joe Exotic Facebook group. The 57-year-old is currently serving a 22-year jail sentence after he was convicted of hiring a hitman in an attempt to murder fellow big cat enthusiast Carole Baskin, as well as being found guilty of killing tigers and illegally selling cubs. 

In Weston's letter, the young boy shares his enthusiasm for Tiger King, and says he would have voted for Exotic when he ran for governor in Oklahoma in 2014 if he could. 

Referring to Exotic's repeated assertions that his rival Carole Baskin killed her missing husband, Weston says: "I strongly agree with you about Carol Bakin she is very suspicious and I do believe she killed her husband, there is substantial evidence and motive." 

"Thank you so much for caring about me," the alleged response from Exotic reads. 

"Does your mom have Facebook? Ask her to share my post and to sign the petitions to the president.

"Hug mom and remember to always love you, never let anyone say you don't matter cause you do. Stay in touch, Love you, Joe Exotic." 

While some Joe Exotic fans on the Facebook group dubbed the exchange "genuine and precious", others criticised Weston's mother for allowing him to watch the show, which covers a range of adult subject matter. 

"Although disturbing you let your kid watch Tiger King... it's still very heartwarming Joe wrote back a very sweet letter," one comment read. 

"Did your 12-year-old kid enjoy the part about meth and murder? I know I did," joked another. 

Another comment referenced Exotic's relationships with younger men, having been married five times. His current husband Dillon Passage is 33 years his junior. 

"Of course he wrote back. He [Weston] is almost of age for Joe's husbands." 

Meanwhile, other fans said they had also written to Exotic, and were anticipating a response. In his letter to Weston, Exotic explained he was only allowed 20 stamps per week, which meant it took him some time to reply to fan mail.