The Fate of Exotic Cats in the Aftermath of “Tiger King”
When the Netflix documentary “Tiger King” was released in March 2020, it quickly became a cultural sensation. The series followed the eccentric Joe Exotic and his feud with animal rights activist Carole Baskin, as well as the underground world of big cat breeding and ownership. The show revealed the mistreatment of exotic cats and the unethical practices some “zoos” engage in.
After the show, many viewers were left wondering about the fate of the exotic cats featured in the series. Were their lives forever changed by being in captivity, and if not, where are they now?
Joe Exotic’s Zoo
Joe Exotic, the Tiger King himself, owned the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. Many of the featured animals, including the tigers and lions, lived on his premises. After Joe’s arrest and imprisonment, the zoo was handed over to Jeff Lowe.
Lowe moved the animals from the Oklahoma zoo to a new facility in Thackerville, Oklahoma called Tiger King Park. However, a judge ruled in 2020 that Lowe and his wife, Lauren, were not legally allowed to exhibit big cats at any property in which they both had ownership, citing endangerment to the animals. As a result, the animals were removed from the park and placed in the care of animal welfare organizations.
The tigers and lions from Joe Exotic’s zoo were transported to Colorado’s Wild Animal Sanctuary. There, they live in spacious habitats where they can roam, exercise, and receive proper care. The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that rescues and takes care of big cats in need.
Doc Antle’s Myrtle Beach Safari
Bhagavan “Doc” Antle is a prominent exotic animal trainer and the founder of Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina. Antle was featured in Tiger King and was portrayed as engaging in unethical breeding practices and mistreating his animals.
Many of the animals at Myrtle Beach Safari—including tigers, lions, and orangutans—are still living there. The facility has been subject to scrutiny and accusations of animal abuse, which Antle denies.
Antle’s legal troubles have increased since the airing of “Tiger King.” In late 2020, he was indicted by a grand jury on multiple charges related to animal cruelty and wildlife trafficking. It is unclear how these charges will impact the animals at Myrtle Beach Safari, but the indictment could lead to Antle’s surrender of his remaining animals.
Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue
Carole Baskin is one of the main subjects of “Tiger King.” She runs Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit animal sanctuary in Tampa, Florida. Baskin’s facility does not breed or sell animals and is focused on rescuing big cats from abusive situations.
Baskin’s advocacy for animal welfare has garnered support from many people around the world. However, the show brought her under increased scrutiny, with some critics accusing her of exploiting the very animals she claims to protect.
Baskin’s facility is still in operation and provides a home for many rescued big cats, including tigers, lions, leopards, and more. In late 2020, Big Cat Rescue took over the ownership of Joe Exotic’s former zoo, which was awarded to Baskin following a legal dispute. Baskin’s organization will use the space for purposes related to animal welfare education and awareness.
Other Zoos and Private Owners
“Tiger King” exposed the world of private big cat ownership, with some people keeping tigers, lions, and other exotic animals as household pets. The show depicted the harsh reality that many of these animals face, living in cramped cages with inadequate care.
There is no clear answer as to where all these animals are now, as many private owners and shady zoos continue to operate within the shadowy world of exotic animal trading. They exploit animals for entertainment and for the financial gain that comes with owning them, unregulated by any authorities.
The documentary has raised awareness on this issue and led to action, with several states in the US and other countries banning private ownership of these animals.
Although “Tiger King” exposed many harsh realities about the exotic animal trade, it also spurred positive change. The rescue and relocation of the big cats featured in the show were the direct result of advocacy by animal welfare organizations and individual activists.
While there are still private exotic animal owners, the documentary has put pressure on governing authorities to improve their regulations, resulting in stricter rules for ownership of these animals.
The fate of the exotic cats featured in “Tiger King” has varied, but there is hope that with awareness and advocacy efforts, more big cats will be rescued and given safe and happy lives.
Heading 1: Introduction
Heading 2: Joe Exotic’s Zoo
Heading 2: Doc Antle’s Myrtle Beach Safari
Heading 2: Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue
Heading 2: Other Zoos and Private Owners
Heading 1: Conclusion