If you haven’t watched Tiger King on Netflix, stop what you are doing and queue it up. This docuseries has exotic animals, alleged murders, polyamory, cults, drugs and flamboyant shirts. The crime lord whom the fictional character Tony Montana was based on is the least shady character in this show. Every scene offers something so batshit crazy you wonder if it’s even real, it is! Joe Exotic is center stage throughout this brilliantly bizarre docuseries but is he really the villain? Check out our post for our 11 unanswered Tiger King questions.
Major Spoilers contained Below. Please note that this article is strictly opinion and speculation of any kind of criminal behavior is alleged. Let’s begin.
How are all the Zoo Keepers not violating labor laws?
Bhagavan “Doc” Antle
Doc Antle, the R Kelly of Zookeepers, hires apprentices to work up to 18 hours days for $100 a week. That’s barely $0.80 per hour. How did this happen? Is it still happening?
He allowed his staff to stay in a barn covered in cockroaches, not to mention he’s basically running an alleged sex cult. Doc, Joe Exotic’s mentor, picked innocent young girls with no life experience to join the staff. The fastest way to “move up” was through Doc’s penis, I can’t make this stuff up. He laughs about the insinuation of a zoo cult, but seriously I hope the authorities are looking into this because I’m very concerned about the young ladies that continue to work for Doc.
Joe Exotic aka Joseph Schreibvogel-Maldonado-Passage
Joe Exotic pays his staff a slighter higher wage at $126 a week which includes 10-12-hour days. Earning GW staffers around $1.50 an hour. His staff lived in broken down rat-infested trailers onsite often dinning on expired Walmart meat.
Then there’s Carole Baskin, the alleged husband killer, and self-proclaimed Mother Teresa of Big Cats. The show is centered around the treatment of animals but the treatment of people was by far, the most vile and disturbing. Instead of paying people, Carole got a gaggle of volunteers to work for FREE under their volunteer program and convinced everyone she is doing god’s work saving the tigers. I assume she is registered as a charity because she humble bragged about getting $10,000-$20,000 in donations from Facebook fans every month.
When pressed, she said she barely knew a lot of her volunteer staff, however her staff, to the best of my knowledge doesn’t live onsite.
Is Doc Antle running a Sex Cult?
Doc’s estate is a mashup of Big Love and the Playboy mansion but with more exotic animals. Former employee, Barbara Fisher spoke about being forced to get breast implants and not resisting because she realized she would get to sleep for a few days.
How brainwashed are his apprentices? I’d love a deeper dive into how he runs his Zoo and more former employees and any ex lovers.
Who set the Production Studio on Fire?
Yikes! I have so many questions about the fire. Would Joe burn down the studio to get rid of evidence, or to destroy the reality show tapes? Let’s play redneck Clue for a moment. Meet my suspects:
Carole Baskin– She may have allegedly killed her 2nd husband. She’s a marketing genius and would do anything to destroy Joe’s reputation. But I can’t imagine her crazy cat-loving self burning down a building with animals in it.
Rick Kirkham – Joe’s Reality Show Producer. All the archive footage for the reality show was stored in the production studio and was never backed up.
Accusing Kirkham of arson doesn’t pan out. He stood to make 7 figures from the reality show, instead all of his footage and equipment went up in smoke. The money he would get from insurance (if he had it) wouldn’t really supersede the footage and lost work.
Joe Exotic – Conveniently enough he was out of town during the fire. Was this too convenient to be a reasonable alibi? A week before the fire Joe learned that he didn’t have rights to his reality show, the producer, Rick Kirkham did. Joe also was in deep with Carole, and owed her a lot of money.
The series speculates that the production studio had a lot of incriminating evidence on it as well, which I’m sure Carole was trying to get a hold of.
If you learned anything from this Netflix original its that Joe is a terrible businessman and whenever he has a problem, he tries sophomoric tactics to get out of it. For example he has issues with a lawsuit or a solvency issue, quick claim the deed the zoo into someone else’s name. He owes assets to Carole, he blew them up with dynamite.
Sure it’s plausible he burned his own property to try and stop Carole’s lawsuits, force Rick Kirkham to reshoot the footage and get into a better contract. But would the insurance money he got from the fire and donations, really make it worth burning the whole building? Again, Joe makes terrible decisions without thinking them through. Why not just burn the hard drives?
GW Staff – All of his staff seems incredibly loyal to Joe, even with poor working conditions, amputations and low pay. If a staffer was involved, I suppose it would be on Joe’s order.
Why did Saff Go Back to Work after Losing His Arm?
Kelci Saffery aka Saff is the most badass person I think I’ll ever witness in my lifetime. He had his arm bitten off by a tiger and was rushed to the hospital.
Side note after he got bitten, Joe Exotic – the Tiger King did a quick wardrobe change to put on his EMT jacket for the cameras.
The doctor explains it would take a year or two of reconstruction to get normal function back and Saff simply says “amputate it”. Within a week after losing his arm he shows up back to work to stop the negative publicity. Saff felt so bad for Joe and the GW Zoo he came back to work to make sure nothing bad happened to the animals.
I know Carole claims to be the top Big Cat rescuer, but Saff did more for animals than I’ve ever seen in my life. If I lost my arm at work, I’d sue and would tell anyone that would listen how poorly I was treated. Inquiring minds want to know if Joe paid Saff’s medical expenses, did he get a settlement? I realize Joe didn’t have much, but I assume he had insurance for this sort of thing. Anyway, my take away is that Saff is by far the most chill person I think we are ever going to meet.
But why is his entire interview taped in a junk yard?
(Saff’s preferred pronouns are he/him and the section was updated to reflect this)
What happened to Don Lewis?
Various characters in this Netflix docuseries alleged that Carole Baskin murdered him in 1997 and I don’t disagree. Don’s attorney, wearing what could only be described as a circus-inspired polka dot tie, weighs in throughout the series but is completely unhelpful. We learned that Don was a serial philanderer and planned to move to Costa Rica with his girlfriend and divorce Carole. Don tried to get restraining orders from his wife Carole Baskin and told family and his assistant that she was out of control. Then BAM, he disappeared.
Don Lewis’s business partner alluded to the fact that Don might have been planning to fake his own death or disappearance. But then his van shows up a few days after his disappearance at an airport. We learn no flight plans were ever filled, and he never turned up in Costa Rica. Carole offers an explanation that he was a terrible pilot and probably crashed in the ocean, um what?
Enter the shady Will and Testament. A new Will turns up after his disappearance, that Don’s executor and power of attorney had never seen. The Will mentions his assets are to be transferred in the event of his disappearance or death. Say What? Disappearance? That’s not verbiage I’ve ever seen in a Will, polka dot tie attorney agrees. Carole legally waits 5 years to declare Don dead, because that busted ass Will didn’t help fast track anything.
The Producers ask the motley crew of characters what they think happened to Don Lewis. Everyone alleges that Carole Baskin murdered him and fed him to her tigers. Flash forward a few episodes where Carole explains the way to get a tiger to attack another person is by putting sardine oil on his shoe. Side eye, girl How you know that?
Carole denies knowing anything about Don’s death. But she did inherit millions of dollars and assets. The Mayberry- inspired Police force investigated but didn’t seem to come up with anything substantial.
Seriously I need the internet detectives to get all over this, I need answers dammit.
How did Joe Exotic convince 2 straight men to “marry” him?
There is a lot to unpack in that question. Joe Exotic seems to be part Tiger King and flipper. He’s a proud gay man and somehow persuaded 2 self-proclaimed straight men into a relationship.
The docuseries alludes to the fact that drugs and exotic animals were dangled in front of Travis Maldonado and John Finlay in exchange for the relationship. I still don’t understand, sadly it looks like a twisted Stockholm syndrome for the young men, who at the time didn’t have many options in life.
Travis accidentally shot himself and died, while John Finlay impregnated a staffer and left Joe.
Why does Allen Glover have a Bathtub Scene?
We were privy to a rare treat, an alleged hitman for hire’s bathtub scene while he explained his side of the story. This was so unnecessary but so damn entertaining.
Why Wasn’t Joe Arrested for the Multiple Threats he made to Carole?
Look, I lost track of the number of threats Joe issued online to Carole. Assault rifles, revolvers, explosives, dildos and blow-up dolls, the list is insane. Did Carole Baskin ever file a restraining order? The violence was entertaining to watch after the fact, but let’s face it, if that happened to me, I’d be terrified. Or were they really in a frenemy situation that helped provide each other with more clout?
Who’s the biggest Animal Abuser?
I don’t know. But I have some thoughts
Joe had a point; Carole’s Big Cat Rescue estate was a mess and seemed unkempt. Carole constantly rambles on about Joe’s GW Zoo and that it’s terrible to keep Cats in cages. Ironically, she spoke about this while standing in front of the cage she keeps her tigers in.
In the past, she bred and sold exotic animals and tried to domesticate them. Her diary (if that was real) talks about how a lot of tigers died because she didn’t know what she was doing when she first started breeding them.
During a lawsuit with Joe, she tried to take his parents house because Joe’s mom’s name was on the deed. Now, this is perfectly legal, but that is a dick move, for anyone, specifically because she’s wealthy and didn’t need the money.
Carole also has a myriad of volunteers who run her place, for free, for the promise of different color t-shirts. She takes crazy cat lady to a whole other level by living by her motto of do as I say not as do.
She may have killed her ex-husband (allegedly). It was shocking the number of negative items about Carole in the docuseries, and it had me wonder why she agreed to participate. Read more about how she felt duped by producers after seeing the final product.
Doc hires young virginesque women to become his apprentice. According to Barbra Fisher, he tries to spiritually heal women with his penis. Doc has a harem of women executing his every command on the zoo estate. Employees reported to make$.80 an hour and work 365 days a year plus lodging. Lodging is similar to animal barns littered with cockroaches. While women are free to go, he runs a cult-like Zoo and has females so enamored with the exotic animal lifestyle and like Joe’s husbands, they continue to stay.
All this while he appears to live a more lavish lifestyle while charging $300-$600 a ticket for access to the animals. Although he points out it cost $10,000 a year to feed each tiger, which he says justifies the high-ticket price.
Doc denies all rumblings of owning a sex cult.
Apparently, Scarface was based on notorious drug lord Mario Tabraue, who oddly enough was the least shady character in the entire documentary. Sure, he was present when a man was chopped up with a circular saw, but hey he did do his time in prison.
Ok hear me out, Mario Tabraue learned how to be an exceptional businessman while running one of the largest drug trades in his state and he uses those skills to fun his exotic wildlife estate. He even lobbied congress regarding privately owned zoos. Oddly enough I feel he’s the least problematic zookeeper in the entire story.
He waltzed in with a fancy car and a pretty wife and literally outsmarted Joe Exotic, getting him to put the Zoo in Jeff’s name. Yes, Joe Exotic makes rash business decisions without thinking them through and did Jeff Lowe take advantage of this? Also, yes. And the Tiger King documentary makes it look like Jeff setup Joe in a bizarre murder for hire plot. But there seems to be a lot more to this story.
Jeff Lowe was hood rich. He flashed fancy, cars, houses and trips, only to be behind on the payments. Lowe didn’t really own anything substantial. He had a young wife and they were swingers. This guy appeared to every playboy’s idol.
I know you’re shocked, but Jeff Lowe also has a sketchy past. Domestic violence and terrible attitudes toward women. After his young wife announced her pregnancy, he told her she’d have to get back in the gym when she gave birth, real prince charming.
While the GW Zoo is still open, Jeff is opening a new zoo in Oklahoma in the Spring of 2020. No word on if this date is being pushed back due to coronavirus COVID-19.
He’s the violent showman with a love for what I can only assume are Lisa Frank inspired shirts. He lives a poly-amorous lifestyle with men who are self-proclaimed straight men. His list of eccentricities include talking about his dead husband’s balls during his funeral, blowing up and threatening everyone with his stockpile of guns, ammunition, and explosives, creating country music video Hey Kitty Kitty video about Carole Baskin allegedly feeding her missing husband to tigers, kept husbands by fueling their drug habits and letting them play with big cats.
Ok, this list could go on for another page, but you get what I’m saying.
He unapologetically ran for President and Governor as the Tiger King as an attention grab. However, he knowingly or unknowingly misappropriated funds which as you know is a big no-no.
Honestly, I feel like he loved his Zoo and the animals, but he just couldn’t leave Carole alone. Sure, he got caught up in his Tiger King persona and If he’s guilty of anything its that he is a shitty businessman and running his mouth about the wrong people.
Do I think he hired someone to kill Carole, not really. Sure, he talked about it all the time, but I don’t think he would act on it, I really think he was set up by Jeff (allegedly).
Will Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness get a follow-up Season?
Rumblings on Social Media suggest it’s a possibility, so fingers crossed.
Will Tiger King be made into a movie?
My favorite SNL cast member Kate McKinnon is in talks with Universal Content Productions to adapt the documentary for the big screen.
Have a favorite Tiger King moment? Let us know all about it in the comments. Don’t forget to follow us on social media.
I haven’t watched this yet, but now i’m going to! Thanks for sharing.
You are in for a treat. Enjoy
I keep hearing everyone talk about Tiger King! With all of the drama you’ve talked about I feel like I need to watch now
Buckle up and enjoy the ride
My husband just brought Tiger King to my attention yesterday and I have started watching it. It is a train wreck of emotions. I want to look away, but can’t.
Every ten minutes it gets crazier
I haven’t watched Tiger King on Netflix so adding it to my watch list to spend my quarantine time well
I watched it twice, you won’t believe what you are watching
You are officially my new favorite person on the Internet and now I will definitely get no sleep because I can’t wait to read more of your stuff. I was laughing out loud the entire time I read this while agreeing with every single thing at the same time. Love!
-Jen in Kentucky
Thanks for reading Jen. This docuseries was a gift to all of us from Netflix.
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I just watched it this week myself and yes, definitely a train wreck! I agree with the Jeff Lowe theory. That got is such a scum bag.
I’ve become obsessed with the Tiger King, especially his music. I think there’s something haunting about how these men were able to basically brainwash their lovers into thinking this life is normal (and worth it). I felt really bad for them.
Absolutely agree. David Spade is doing web cam interviews with the old staff, you should check that out. It’s on his Lights out YouTube page
All of the questions on here I have the same to ask. There are a lot of missing pieces and open gaps. I think Carole killed her husband but didn’t burn down the production scene – I think Joe set that up (I think he once cared about the cats but over time money became his focus). How in the world do you convince 2 straight men to marry you? I’d say money but Joe really wasn’t rich! They may have been young, curious and vulnerable. Fingers crossed for another season!
OMG this show was too good…everything was just SO wild it was hysterical. It blows my mind how available big cats are within the United States, it’s crazy! I also think Carole 100% killed her husband or at least knew something she didn’t care to share lol!
I definitely have questions! Like is Carole basically doing exactly what the other keepers are doing under the guise of sanctuary? She charges, she exploits…heck don’t ALL zoos do that? I’m not sure Joe’s charges fit the crime. And Jeff is ridiculous. We all knew he was fronting when he drove up in a 2002 Hummer.
Joe Exotic was framed! Glad to see they are reopening Carol’s case against her husband (because she totally did it!) but wish they’d take another look at Joes.
we have been watching Ozark, almost done. Will try Tiger King next.
Thanks for sharing! I just finished watching it and many of these thoughts crossed my mind too. I hope Netflix will do a volume two of the documentary 🙂
I definitely hoping for season 2 also. Thanks for reading