Failures of Tiger King

As COVID-19 shuts everyone in and puts the world on pause, Tiger King is taking the world by storm. The documentary is filled with oddball characters, insane agendas, and of course, adorable big cats. With eight completely unpredictable episodes, it is no surprise that the internet is raving about the show’s two main characters, Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin.

The docuseries starts off by telling the story of Joe Exotic, owner of G.W. Zoo, a private exotic animal zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. The mullet-wearing redneck draws everyone in with his unapologetically eccentric personality, lack of self-control, and speech filter. The viewers are immediately thrown into the chaos of Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin, and the drama between private zoos like Exotic’s, and Baskin’s PETA-supported big cat sanctuary.

Personally, I feel like the documentary completely missed the opportunity to educate about the mistreatment of big cats in captivity. Obviously, these cats are unable to return to the wild, but their lives in captivity should not be spent in small cages used for profit and tourist entertainment. While Carole Baskin preached about not keeping the animals in cages, her business model was just as bad as the rest of the zoos. She used the animals

Joe Exotic posing with one of his tigers.

strictly for-profit, rather than using the money to help big cats in the wild. Instead, she used it to sue Joe and attack him. As well as the cub petting taking place, which was horrible for the cubs being separated from their mothers immediately after they are born. Doing that is not only stressful for the mothers and cubs, but they shouldn’t be intentionally breeding the cats to spend their entire lives stuck in cages.

Furthermore, the drama between everyone distracted from the horrible events taking place. Doc Antle practically ran a cult and used his interns for his own personal agenda, forcing them to change their names, undergo sexually enhancing surgeries, and cut off all access to the outside world. Not to forget the fact that he was accused of euthanizing his tiger cubs once they were too old to be held by guests.

While the docuseries is good entertainment because of the constant plot twists and insane personalities, I feel like it missed so many major points and focused on the wrong things. The internet is raving about Carole Baskin killing her husband, completely overlooking the horrible treatment of tigers and employees. All of the zoo owners took advantage of their employees and used the animals for profit, which unfortunately doesn’t help the dwindling numbers of cats in the wild. With that being said, I do believe that Joe Exotic deserves to be in jail, as well as the rest of the people mistreating their animals.

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About Jessica Harden

Hey, I'm Jessica Harden and this is my third year on staff. I am the editor-in-chief, I compete in academic UIL journalism, and I am a nationally recognized journalist. Outside of newspaper, I play the flute and I am the drum major. I like to write poetry, I collect vintage cameras, and I dream of being a published author one day. I will attend UT Austin in the fall majoring in journalism at Moody College and I plan on taking a minor in environmental science. Hook 'Em!

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