Tiger King after show 'The Tiger King and I' puts Joe Exotic under the microscope
Netflix dropped the highly anticipated extra episode of their wild docuseries Tiger King at midnight on Sunday, with many of the original subjects returning to set the record straight on subjects not covered in the first seven episodes.
Tiger King tells the story of Joe Exotic, born Joseph Allen Schreibvogel, an eccentric Oklahoma man who owned hundreds of exotic animals he kept at his G.W. Exotic Animal Park, where he hosted crowds of people who paid to interact with baby wild cats and other animals.
At the heart of the story is Exotic's unhealthy obsession with a woman named Carole Baskin, owner of Big Cat Rescue in Western Florida, who he was convicted of a murder-for-hire plot against. He is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for the offense as well as violations against the Endangered Species Act.
Neither Exotic nor Baskin participated in Netflix's after show, "The Tiger King and I," taking away the biggest elements that made the documentary a hit. Exotic is currently in quarantine at a medical prison in Forth Worth, Texas after multiple cases of COVID-19 were identified at the Oklahoma prison where he's serving his time.
Baskin told EW on April 6, she had "not been approached about a new episode and would not participate if asked," which comes as no surprise as she's slammed the documentary for being "salacious and sensational."
Comedian Joel McHale, who also serves as executive producer of the after show episode, hosted conversations with many secondary and tertiary characters including Jeff Lowe and his wife Lauren, Rick Kirkham, Kelci "Saff" Saffery, John Finlay, Erik Cowie, John Reinke, and Joshua Dial.
Here's what we learned:
Tiger King producers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin were not involved in "The Tiger King and I"
Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin were not involved in the after show episode, Netflix confirmed to EW. While the pair said they'd be interested in exploring a second season of the show, things seem to have changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"I say most of our thoughts right now are toward people’s safety and health and their importance of people staying home," Chaiklin told The Hollywood Reporter on April 1. "These are things that are still unfolding and we’re thinking about it, but it’s kind of hard to say."
Joe Exotic reportedly killed his animals even if they were healthy
The producers behind Tiger King have been accused by viewers of being sympathetic to Exotic by showing footage that made the convicted criminal likable, opting instead to make his nemesis Baskin the "bad guy." McHale discussed what Exotic was really like with all the subjects, many of whom admit they regret doing the things he told them to do.
"It's been in the back of my head and I think about it a lot," Head zookeeper Erik Cowie tells McHale. "A lot of times when we put cats down, they'd use me because of my appearance and my voice. I can get a cat up the side of a cage where we can dart it, and tranquilize it so they can be put down. Those cats trusted me up until the end and somehow, sometimes, I swear they were like, 'Dude, you let me down.' I can see it in their face and in their eyes."
McHale asked Cowie if the cats were put down due to medical reasons.
He replied, "You would think, but no. Even before all this happened, Jeff [Lowe] asked me once point blank where my loyalties lie? And without hesitation, I told him my loyalties—I don't care about you and I don't care about Joe — I'm here for the cats."
The situation with Cowie was not the only time Exotic allegedly put down healthy animals. Lowe, Exotic's former business partner and current owner of his Oklahoma zoo, shared his own tale.
"Joe killed the tigers. He admitted to killing the tigers from jail," Lowe said.
His wife Lauren interjects, "And they were healthy tigers, by the way. They were 2-3 year old."
Lowe continues, "They were not sick. They were beautiful, healthy tigers that he called over to the fence and he shot them in the head because he needed the cage space. So Joe goes out and makes the cage space by killing five beautiful, healthy tigers."
Saff, who lost his arm in a tiger accident shown in the documentary, confirms Exotic did kill tigers who were not sick.
"At that point, it's out of my control," he said. "Joe always had a way of explaining his actions: they were old, they were injured, they were suffering, is what we got."
Robert Kirkham, who served as producer of Exotic's YouTube channel, said he was also witness to Exotic's animal cruelty.
"I saw him shoot two tigers, actually," he told McHale. "One of them because he was pissed off at a tiger because the tiger nearly bit him one day. The guy was a cruel man."
Exotic was not available to comment on the numerous allegations made against him during the after show.
Josh Dial opens up about Travis Maldonado's death
In 2017, Exotic's husband Travis Maldonado accidentally shot himself in the head and died with Josh Dial sitting at his desk just steps away. Dial was Exotic's campaign manager during his run for governor of Oklahoma.
Dial clarified whether or not he believes Maldonado intentionally killed himself.
"We were talking, he was telling me about his gun. Joe just bought him a Ruger," Dial explained about what transpired moments before Maldonado accidentally shot himself. "He said, 'Hey, you know a Ruger won't fire without a clip.' And I said, 'Really?' And he said, 'Yeah' and right then put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger to prove to me that it wouldn't fire without a clip. However, it must've had one [bullet] in the chamber."
He added about whether or not he thinks it was done intentionally, "No, I was looking at him in the eyes when he did it and I could see the surprise and the fear in his eyes. I could see that basically it translated to, 'Oh crap, what did I just do?' And maybe five seconds of his eyes I could read it and then he was gone."
Dial said Exotic sought out the help of a shaman after Maldonado's death, which he thinks made Exotic worse.
John Finlay chose not to wear a shirt in the documentary
A lot of people claimed John Finlay, Exotic's ex-husband, was asked by producers not to wear a shirt throughout the documentary. Finlay confirms this was his choice.
"I got tattoos, why not show off? I mean, it was a little cold but it was fun," he told McHale.
Kirkham believes Joe Exotic is scared of wild cats
Kirkham laughed at the notion that Exotic considers himself the "Tiger King" because he is in fact afraid of them.
"The one thing that wasn't pointed out in the docuseries that is really important to know too: Joe was terrified of big cats," he told McHale. "He was scared to death of lions and tigers. In the shots that you see on there, when he's in with two tigers, the white one and the other one, the white one is blind and the other one is on tranquilizers. It's idiotic to think how he became famous as 'The Tiger King' when he's so terrified of big cats."
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A docuseries about eccentric individuals involved in private tiger zoos, including the colorful and controversial former zookeeper Joe Exotic, who was sentenced to 22 years for hiring a hitman to kill his nemesis, Carole Baskin.