Within recent weeks, Tiger King has been #1 on the Netflix trending page, and people are obsessed. I wanted to see what all of the hype was about, so naturally, I started watching. There are a total of 7 episodes, and the first episode starts off with an Investigation Discovery sort of theme.
We’re introduced to Joe Exotic (real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage) — former owner of Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. Within the first two minutes, the audience learns that Exotic was accused of hiring someone to murder Carole Baskin — owner of The Big Cat Rescue. If found guilty, he could face up to 80 years in prison.
It helped Netflix that Exotic felt the need to film every part of his day. So, running out of footage was never a problem.
I really liked how it brought us on his journey, and it allowed the viewers to see things from an outside, unbiased perspective. Yet, it also immersed the audience into what Exotic’s mindset was throughout all of this.
If clips of animal cruelty makes you sick to your stomach, then this is definitely not the show for you (I could barely handle it at times). Former Hannah Montana star, Emily Osment, took to her Instagram story yesterday, to post that within five minutes of watching the first episode, she broke into tears. “It’s just not the show for me”, she explained, after mentioning how exhausted one caged snow leopard appeared to be.
What I really enjoyed about this was that each episode gets to the point fairly quickly. It doesn’t drag on and leave things out, which is most likely why each episode is 40 minutes long. Within the first few minutes, we learned why Exotic began his feud with Baskin. He found out about Baskin when she released a newspaper article, claiming that Exotic was using his tigers for “financial gain”, and that he was mistreating the poor creatures by confining them to cages.
I didn’t think I was going to sympathize with this man at all throughout the show, but halfway through the first episode, I found myself feeling sorry for the “Tiger King”. He explained his struggle with his sexuality, and his suicide attempt, and it was almost hard to hear about that.
However, the empathetic feeling didn’t last long, because in the episodes to follow, we learned much more about Exotic; cramping Tiger cubs into a semi-truck for long periods at a time, abusing animals with no remorse, and having a murder mindset towards getting revenge on Baskin.
“For Carole, and all of her friends that are watching out there… Before you bring me down, it is my belief that you will stop breathing.” This is a direct threat that Exotic said on his television show, and just hearing that made my skin turn pale. To see how dark someone can get, and how vicious this turned over his own mistakes… It’s something right out of a horror film.
Although I won’t go into how each episode made me feel, the final episode is well worth mentioning.
There were a lot of twists and turns — the main one being that Carole may have been a suspect in her husband’s mysterious disappearance/death. However, there is no confirmation of that. So, it remains a prominent theory.
It was finally revealed in the finale, that Joe Exotic is now facing 22 years in federal prison.
Exotic was convicted on 20+ charges. 5 charges are for murdering five of his tigers, 2 charges are for the hire-for-murder scheme, and the rest are for endangering the welfare of wild animals.
Netflix ended the series by providing an important fact: 5,000-10,000 tigers currently live in captivity, across the United States.
The amount of research, editing, and hours of filming that went into this series is truly admirable. My final thoughts on it are that although there are a lot of graphic images and animal abuse content, the show is crafted in a way, where it’s really hard to look away. Each episode gets more and more addicting, and it makes you realize that you never really know what’s going on behind the scenes in a zoo.
Although Tiger King was difficult to watch at times, due to the surplus of animal cruelty, I hope that people become more aware of this, and donate their money to wildlife conservations, instead of zoos that trap wild animals into small, confined cages.
At one point, Exotic mentioned that he felt like he was “trapped in a cage” when he was in prison, and I’m not ashamed to say that I clapped during when he said that. Exotic murdered innocent animals, and getting a lengthy prison sentence ensures that animal abusers are no longer getting away, scott free.
As for Carole Baskin, there is currently no evidence to convict her of murdering her late husband. However, be sure to check back here for any updates, in case new information surfaces.
Tiger King is currently ranked number one on the Netflix trending page, and rightfully so.