Since it’s March debut, people on social media have been raving about a docu-series on Netflix called “Tiger King”. With nothing but time on my hands during the quarantine, I decided to check it out myself. Hillbillies, exotic animals, rivalries, and murder, “Tiger King” is hands-down one of the best docu-series I’ve watched.
A crime styled-documentary, “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness” takes us into the world of the exotic animal market and demand in America. Full of cutthroat and vengeful characters, the story focuses on the rivalry between Carole Baskin, big cat conversationalist, and owner of Big Cat Rescue in Florida, and Joe Exotic, big cat breeder, dealer, and owner of one of the biggest cat parks, GW Zoo in Oklahoma. We are shown the surreal events that led to Exotic currently serving 22 years in federal prison for 17 counts of animal abuse and two counts for murder-for-hire on Carole Baskin.
The feud between the two began when Carole claimed Exotic was an animal abuser, which made him fire back claiming Baskin is responsible for the disappearance of her ex-husband, that she killed him most likely by feeding his body to her tigers. With all the evidence were given, they both don’t seem far fetched.
The Tiger King himself, Exotic, is a gun-totting, country, gay man who owns over 1,200 tigers and was in a polygamous marriage. Exotic knew how to keep your focus on him. You could see in the beginning that he cared about the tigers and the people who worked for him but as time went on and he became rich, we saw his fall down, corruption, and wickedness following behind.
This documentary was so well made. Though we had a very interesting story to follow, I think they pressed on the topic of exotic animal abuse in America really well. We see how much corruption is in the exotic animal market, big cats only being viewed as commodities—their welfare an afterthought. In the film, we see clips of keepers losing control, suffering horrible consequences, the reality of tigers being predators, not pets weighing in.
I binged watched this and finished in three days. It’s left its mark, still fresh on my mind wanting to discuss it with you guys! After you watch it let us what you thought about it.
Here’s the trailer to check out yourself.
By Amaris Edwards, Senior, Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep