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The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

The Student News Site of Utica University

The Tangerine

Netflix’s The Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness gives all of that and more

Much of the world has been in lockdown for weeks because of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has given many people time to catch up on their Netflix shows. This seemed like the perfect time for a documentary as wild as The Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness to be released.

Netflix’s number one show is a seven-episode series that takes you inside the world of captive big cat parks in the country. The documentary mainly focuses on Joe Exotic, the former owner of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. Right from the start of the series, Joe Exotic exhibits his eccentric personality. He’s a gay, gun-toting, redneck that has a passion for raising and owning big cats.  

It is also at the start of the first episode that Big Cat Rescue owner Carole Baskin makes her appearance. Joe Exotic and Baskin have the biggest rivalry in the show. In fact, it escalated so far to the point that Joe was planning to pay someone to murder Baskin in Florida.

As each episode goes on the show feels like a roller coaster ride of events. Joe Exotic gets married to two men at the same time, a park employee has their arm ripped off by a tiger, Joe runs for governor of Oklahoma, his television studio/alligator sanctuary burns to the ground and one of his husbands accidentally committs suicide.  

The crazy part is that the events forementioned is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Tiger King. There is much more than what meets the eye in the exotic animal business because while Joe Exotic made his feud with Carole Baskin very public, there was some other not so good stuff going on behind the scenes that the documentary takes a dive into.  

Carole Baskin’s name cannot be mentioned without bringing up how it is believed that she killed her ex-husband Don Lewis after his mysterious disappearance in 1997. Baskin denies all of the allegations, but the documentary framed it in a way that makes her look not so innocent. It is revealed in this particular episode that her brother is a member of the police force and they neglected to check the meat grinder or septic tank for DNA. Sounds a little suspicious for someone that would have gained a lot from her millionaire husband passing away.

The 5th and 6th episodes go into detail about Joe having been under investigation by the federal government for quite some time. He had been illegally breeding and selling cubs and was also charged with illegally killing five tigers and he is currently serving a 22 year prison sentence.  

The Netflix documentary did an excellent job of covering this story in much detail from the beginning to the end.  However, they did not show how bad it truly was. In an interview with David Spade, former Joe Exotic TV producer Rick Kirkham told a story about how an elderly woman left her horse with Joe because she could no longer take care of it. 

“As soon as the lady left the park, Joe said ‘Rick grab the camera, start rolling,” Kirkham said. “And I rolled on him, he walks up to the trailer, pulls his gun out, shoots the horse in the head dead and laughs… and of course, he fed that horse to the lions.”

Just by watching the series a couple times it is obvious that the way Exotic is portrayed in a way that almost makes you feel bad for him. For Kirkham to come out and tell horrific stories, it makes you wonder what else the documentary didn’t show.

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