Netflix’s Binge-Worthy Docu-Series, “Tiger King”
Netflix’s latest true- crime doc, “Tiger King” has viewers at home obsessed with the absurdity of everything the series has to offer. To break it down, the show goes through a five year journey, following around private-owned zoo keeper, Joe Exotic who for twenty years owned G.W. Zoo in Oklahoma, with his main focus having hundreds of big cats on display at the zoo. The series follows Joe’s fame for having cubs that the public could pet, to then being charged with hiring a hitman to murder his nemesis, Big Cat Rescue CEO, Carol Basket.
Diving deeper, filmmaker Eric Goode started this journey when he stumbled upon a man who had just purchased a cub that was in the back of his hot car, worth thousands of dollars, learning that private owned big cats was an industry that many individuals do no know about, hence beginning a five-year film journey to show us everything that goes on within the trade.
The most notable characters in the docu-series are “Doc” Antle, owner of Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina. In the series, Antle is known for having apprentices, who are all young women, being told how to dress at the safari, working non-stop every day without a day off, changing appearances for what Antle wants, and even having the apprentices legally change their names in what was described as a cult-like environment, according to a former apprentice who was interviewed. While “Doc” claims in the docu-series anyone is free to leave whenever they want, the former apprentice claims otherwise.
Carol Basket, CEO of Big Cat Rescue, is also a notable character in “Tiger King,” with her being the enemies of every private cat owner, such as Joe Exotic and “Doc” Antle. She runs the largest big cat sanctuary in North America, rescuing the cats from private owners and letting them live the entirety of their lives in her care. Basket has been known to try to shut down private owners breeding cubs for the public to play with. In the docu-series, it’s claimed that after a certain amount of months, when the cubs get older, private owners euthanize the big cats, as they are “not cute” anymore, hence Carol’s sanctuary.
However, there is also a twist with Carol and her past. Her millionaire husband mysteriously disappeared, with the case still being open on how he vanished. After he was pronounced dead, Carol was able to get most of his assets while his children got only a small percentage of what their father was worth. In the series, his two daughters, and ex-wife believe Basket knows what happened to him, convinced she had something to do with his disappearance. The same goes for Joe Exotic, who throughout the series claims that she murdered her late husband, and fed him to the tigers to get his money. While these are incredible accusations, everyone connected to her late husband are also convinced that she had something to do with his disappearance, having viewers wondering, did she really do it or did she not?
Joe Exotic is known throughout the series to absolutely hate Basket to the point he wanted her dead. Which leads us to him hiring a hitman to drive to Florida and have her murdered. However, the hitman never made it to Florida, according to his testimony and through text exchanges, the FBI picked up Joe and arrested him for murder fo hire. After he was arrested, the feds went through G.W. Zoo and found five disposed tiger bones buried on the property, leading individuals to believe he euthanized his tigers as they got older, leading him to also get charged with animal cruelty. Joe Exotic is currently serving 22 years in prison.
While these were the main factors in the docu-series, there were other factors that happened such as Joe at one point being married to two guys at once, one of his zoo staff got his arms eaten off by a tiger, Exotic ran for president and governor and so on. The main important factor however, is that the animals were something important to Joe Exotic until he became successful financially that it became more about the money and less about the animals.
There are less than 4,000 tigers running around free in the wild and 10,000 tigers that are privately owned.