Jeff Lowe -- Joe Exotic's ex-business partner and mentor -- raised eyebrows on 'Tiger King' over his search for a nanny and has folks speculating it's all a stunt ... but the nanny in question tells TMZ -- she's legit, just not full-time.
Masha Diduk is the hot nanny Jeff and his pregnant wife, Lauren, wanted to hire on the Netflix docuseries, and Masha tells us ... she was indeed hired by the couple in September to care for their daughter.
She says she actually met Jeff and Lauren 4 years ago in Las Vegas -- where she lives and works as a model -- back when they drove to Sin City with a few tiger cubs ... as those who have seen 'Tiger King' recall.
We're told Masha's agreement was to work part-time as their baby girl's caretaker during business hours at Jeff's Oklahoma zoo -- mostly on weekends -- which she's been doing recently.
The nanny recently appeared with Jeff, Lauren and the baby on "Lights Out with David Spade," and rumors began swirling she was paid by Jeff to be there simply for the TV interview ... but she says that's not true.
Masha tells us her Vegas work has dried up because of the pandemic -- and Jeff's been busy moving the zoo to a new location -- so she really has been with the family taking care of baby Sarah.
Granted, the timing with the release and popularity of 'Tiger King' is suspicious at best.
As for 'Tiger King' ... Masha says it's entertaining, but she feels the producers twisted some things about Jeff. She says it made it seem like Jeff mistreated animals the way Joe Exotic did, but that's wrong ... and she wouldn't work for him if he did.