Netflix’s documentary “Tiger King” captivates with cast of unreal characters

Courtesy of Netflix

“Tiger King” follows the story of multiple big cat sanctuaries in the U.S

Blake Beashore, Editor-in-Chief

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is a captivating documentary about the ownership and breeding of big cats. The story is about much more than the cats. The real story is about the wild cast of characters fit for a late-night cartoon.

You have Joe Exotic, once the owner of the G.W zoo but currently serving 22 years in federal prison; Carole Baskin owner of a tiger sanctuary in Florida, but also accused of murdering her disappeared husband; and many more.

Watching the documentary it is hard to find many people that you respect on the show. The more you watch the more you see that the only people worth respecting are the ones working for less than minimum wage to try and care for the animals.

The reason the show is so captivating is because of the lack of morals and the complete bizarreness of the lives the characters are leading. You watch Joe Exotic threaten to kill Carol Baskins in a variety of ways, you watch him marry two much younger men at once, you even see him run for president and governor of Oklahoma while he sports a bleach blonde mullet. 

You also have the story of Carole Baskin, owner of Big Cat Rescue in Florida. Baskin is actively trying to take down Joe Exotic and his zoo under the pretense of saving Tigers, while her “sanctuary” operates in what many people claim to be a similar fashion. Another storyline focused on in the documentary is the possibility that Baskin killed her last husband Don Lewis.

The majority of the documentary follows the battles between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin and the destruction it causes around them. Baskin spends over two million dollars trying to take Exotic down, while he continues to make videos about her spreading propaganda about who she truly is. The two of them go head to head for years until a threat to Baskin’s life was acted upon.

Joe Exotic’s shady business partner Jeff Lowe, who also has felony charges for hitting his ex-wife, was brought in after Exotic’s battles with Baskin drained his cash and needed a boost to keep running the park. Lowe came in and took ownership of the park bringing in some of his employees. One of those employees was ex-con Allen Glover. Exotic hired Glover to kill Baskin and had given him cash to head to Florida and do it. Glover was on his way there but decided against it. Glover cooperated with the Federal Government, as well as many other of Exotic’s employees and Exotic was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Many other wild things happened throughout the documentary and the craziness of the show is addicting, keeping you watching till the end. The increasing popularity caused the show to release a bonus episode, hosted by Joel McHale which featured him interviewing many of the people involved in the documentary. This bonus episode reveals many things about Joe Exotic and the terrible things he did, and how his dark choices affected those around him.

As you watch the documentary you see that there are no heroes. The main thing to take away is that these people who claim they love tigers were so wrapped up in their battles with each other, that they spent over 2.5 million dollars in legal fees just to spite each other, when that money could have been going towards helping preserve Tigers in the wild, going to show that it wasn’t about the Tigers, it was about the egotistical world of big cat ownership and breeding.