Anyone who has an internet connection right now would be aware of the beautiful mess that is Tiger King. Even if you haven’t watched the Netflix original docuseries featuring cool cats and kittens, and a healthy dose of madness, you would know everyone can’t stop talking about it. Starting off any show or movie, even if it’s a documentary based on real people, people are bound to take sides. Our simple minds like to have a protagonist to root for and a villain to throw hate at. I suppose that’s what everyone was doing in Tiger King as well but I guess we all massively failed because almost everyone in Netflix’s Tiger King is a villain! From the larger than life Joe Exotic to the suspicious Carole Baskin to the wannabe playboy Jeff Lowe. And no one can forget Doc Antle and his extremely problematic cult.
But for this article, let’s put our focus on Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic.
Joe Exotic, Tiger king himself
The whole documentary seems to be a focal point around Joe Exotic. After all, it is named after him. Initially, I was kind of rooting for Joe Exotic. Hell, even Cardi B was. That’s because, in this game of cat and mouse between him and Carole, Joe lost. He was always seen suffering more just because of his abysmal living conditions. We see that he is already financially in a tough spot, and Carole further comes after his money just so that he would stop cub petting and cub breeding.
— Luciana (@iron_mermaiden) March 29, 2020
His husband Travis kills himself by accident, another husband leaves him for a woman even after he did so much for him. He’s always looking for fame and someone burned his studio with all of Rick’s footage! Holy hell! Then as the story progresses further, we see Jeff Lowe conning him out of his zoo and him being framed for ‘murder-for-hire’ plot that Jeff and his right-hand man Allen cooked up. Can someone give this guy a break? He already lost his presidential race to freaking Donald Trump! All he wanted was to be famous!
Joe is far from perfect
His obsession with Carole distracted him from his real duties
But Joe Exotic is anything but innocent. Throughout the documentary, one thing became very clear. No one really had any care about the animals. Least of all Joe Exotic. He had only one passion in his life and that was to get Carole Baskin out of his way.
He claims that he didn’t hire someone to kill her even though the court charged him for it. But even he can’t deny his hatred for Carole Baskin. Another thing that became increasingly obvious was that the love of protecting animals quickly turned into something else, something wrong. He wanted to be famous, he wanted attention and he wanted to be the Tiger King that had the best zoo of all. And Joe Exotic wanted to prove that animal rights activists don’t do anything worthwhile and that they were wrong for taking his ‘freedom’ away. So much so that he threw a hissy fit when his producer Kirk told him he doesn’t own the rights to his own reality show. Something that probably led to him burning his own studio. Do you know what else he burned? His own alligators. Even if he didn’t, he didn’t stop his agenda for hating on Carole Baskin.
Joe Exotic didn’t really care about the animals and workers
Joe Exotic didn’t care about the awful conditions of his zoo at many points, he didn’t care if the animals were being treated right or not. Tiger king was more into protecting his own kingdom than his tigers. He wanted fame and power, that’s why he ran the presidential race and he spent all of the money on the pointless campaigns as opposed to using all of that money into improving conditions for his animals.
Plus, his staff of workers could probably sue him for treating them unfairly. They were overworked, exhausted, didn’t get enough money to have proper food or decent living conditions. They had to eat leftover meat from the Wall-mart trucks. I mean, are you kidding me?
— NIKMOE (@NIKMOETHO) March 29, 2020
His husbands’ drug addiction
Moving on to his husband Travis and John Finlay. They were both heterosexual men, 19-years-old, addicted to drugs and just wanted toys such as trucks and guns to play with. Do you know who provided that? Joe Exotic with God knows what money! The money that again I mention (didn’t go to caring for the animals). Joe Exotic wasn’t the source of their drug addiction, but he certainly didn’t stop them from taking on more drugs. He was an enabler in their addiction.
Carole Baskin, Crazy Cat Lady
She had a dark past
Now, watching the documentary, it became increasingly obvious to me that she probably did murder her first husband Don Lewis. So much so that it has become a trending meme and Cardi B is completely sure of it. However, she vehemently denies it and shrugs off all the allegations as her enemies trying to scare her off. Her warm tone and calm demeanor throughout the Tiger King series subtly conveyed something sinister was going behind Carol’s tiger printed clothes. Though, she like Joe Exotic’s accident had a tragic story too. She was raped when she was 14 and had to leave the house by 15 and then had to marry at 17, Michael Murdock because she had no other choice. Slowly, Michael turned abusive and Carole had to flee the house when she was 19.
Disappearance of Don Lewis
Then in an almost cinematic fashion, she was walking down the road at night when Don Lewis set eyes on her. And the rest is history. Don left his wife and daughters at the time to marry Carole and they both started a wildlife sanctuary together. Things turned sour and the happy couple wasn’t happy anymore and this led to the mysterious disappearance of Don Lewis. And everyone (including myself) highly suspect that Carole Baskin killed him. Why?
She acquired all of his wealth and assets and gave only 10% of it to his daughters from his previous marriage. Then she used all of the money to create her Big Cat Rescue organization that she is currently running.
whether you think she fed don lewis to the tigers or not, carole baskin needs to go to jail for her wedding photos alone pic.twitter.com/22UTOuqMRZ
— squeaky fromme the block (@averpee) March 31, 2020
Carole is a hypocrite
The thing that confused me throughout was that I could not understand why Carole Baskin was fighting Joe Exotic when she had the damn tigers locked up in cages too. Not to say that her sanctuary wasn’t really in perfect condition either. She just wanted the law to end but I didn’t understand what her real intentions are. She has just 12 tigers and they’re in cages!
The hypocrisy of Carole Baskin is really what irks the viewers of Tiger King. She wants to have no tigers in captivity, yet she has 12 big cats in captivity. To quote a conservative activist, Blaire White, ‘Make it Make Sense!’
— morgan (@morganlalex) March 26, 2020
It truly is confusing. Not to mention how she comes after Joe Exotic’s parents and forced them to give up everything they owned. Now, it was Joe Exotic’s fault essentially but she did not hesitate to come after two elderly people who had no idea their son was doing this to them.
No one really cares for the animals
Carole Baskin, self-proclaimed protector of cats, didn’t really do anything to provide care for the tigers and lions that were in captivity. She spent thousands of dollars just to come after Joe Exotic and end his zoo. But what is she ultimately doing with all that money?
The sanctuary of hers also allows people to come to visit the tigers but isn’t that the same thing as what Joe Exotic and Doc Antle were doing?
We already know Joe and Doc Antle were more interested in running the zoo for profit and fame, but Carole Baskin is doing the same thing.
A great thing the documentary highlighted was that all the money could have been spent in conserving the natural habitats of the animals that these people were fighting over.