Former NBA star visits G.W. Zoo

Published: May. 25, 2016 at 10:08 PM CDT
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WYNNEWOOD, Okla., (KXII) -- Game Four between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors is in the books, but before Tuesday's game, one former NBA star made a stop in Texoma.

It wasn't a bird or a plane at the G.W. Zoo in Wynnewood earlier this week. It was Superman.

NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal visited the zoo on Monday, and it's not his first time.

"All the animals you want to see. tigers, ligers, little ligers, lions," said O'Neal. "They even got chickens and roosters."

"Every time, he's on this side of the world now traveling up I-35 or anywhere, he stops by and spends four or five hours here at the zoo playing with whatever animals we have," said Joseph Maldonado.

Shaq is part of TNT's team, covering the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors series.

You could say he and zoo spokesperson Joseph Maldonado, otherwise known as Joe Exotic, are teammates because he says Shaq sponsors five of his tigers that contribute to genetic research for the animals.

"They pay for the care, the vet bill, the caging and the fees for the tigers entirely life here at the animal park," Maldonado said. "But the tiger never leaves the animal park."

Joe Exotic says he met Shaq about eight years ago.

"One day he just showed up at the zoo, and I actually didn't know who the man was," Maldonado admitted. "Everybody was like, 'that's Shaq!' And I'm like 'who's Shaq?'"

Since then, the all-star center can't stay away.

"He's not real fond of monkeys so we always tease him with the monkeys," Maldonado said. We just got in a 14-foot snake Saturday. We finally got him to hold the back end of that."

And Shaq has a special message for Americans.

"This is Senator Shaquille O'Neal, and I endorse Joe Exotic for President."

"I'm not using a good friend as just a campaign endorsement," Maldonado said. "He's a great big guy. Got the heart of a kid."