Shaquille O’Neal explains his appearance in Netflix’s ‘Tiger King’

Shaquille O’Neal wants you to know he isn’t friends with Joe Exotic. 

“Being friendly to somebody doesn’t mean that we’re friends,” the former NBA star explains to Conan O’Brien in the clip above, after the host asks him about his appearance in Netflix’s documentary series Tiger King. “I have no affiliation with him or his zoo. I like animals; every zoo in the country knows my name, I’ve made large donations for animals to have food, shelter, all that good stuff.”

O’Neal says he first visited Joe Exotic’s G.W. Zoo by chance, after seeing a sign for white tigers (“I love white tigers; that’s my weakness”) as he was travelling by one day. After meeting Joe Exotic, O’Neal told him he wanted to “buy” some tiger cubs — cub petting, it’s worth noting, is a point of contention for animal rights groups like PETA — but clarifies that the term “buy” essentially meant making a donation to the zoo in return for the cats being known as his. (The animals don’t leave the zoo; In fact, it’s not an uncommon practice with donor programs for zoos, to “adopt” a particular animal with your donation.)

O’Neal  then explains that he only went back to the zoo once more, when he was warned by someone at the park that there was “some stuff going on” and it might be wise for him not to return.

And as for his opinions on Joe Exotic?

“He was one of those guys that go to auditions every day and they want to be a star so bad they just do everything.”

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