The Mysterious Disappearance of Joe Exotic’s Tigers: A Dark Reminder of the Exploitation of Exotic Animals
In the world of exotic and speculative pets, owning a tiger is undoubtedly one of the most covetable and potentially dangerous choices one can make. The likes of Mike Tyson, Roy Horn, as well as Siegfried and Roy, are among the few who have owned these magnificent beasts. However, this story takes us to Joe Exotic. Joe, the star of the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness,” owned a private zoo in Oklahoma, where he housed an extensive collection of wild animals. With over 200 tigers and other big cats in his possession, Joe was the poster boy for the trade in big cat breeding, trading, and ownership. But, in a strange twist of events, Joe’s tigers disappeared from the zoo, and to this day, no one knows what happened to them.
The Rise of Joe Exotic and the Lure of Big Cat Ownership in the US
Joe’s rise to prominence coincided with the prevalent lure of big cat ownership in the United States. Joe Exotic was a flamboyant character, a showman who used his charisma and inner confidence to win people over. Many were fascinated by his eccentricities, and his aggressive and combative character. He was sharp-tongued and opinionated, determined to push and defend his beliefs no matter the consequences. He once ran for the office of the President of the United States, failing miserably but still winning recognition.
Joe’s zoo, the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, located in rural Oklahoma, became a tourist attraction, with visitors keen to see his extensive collection of exotic animals. His tigers were especially popular, and he even offered tourists the chance to get up close to them, to pet and take pictures with them, a practice that many conservationists found deplorable. While many visit the park for the spectacle, the majority of the animals including the tigers, were living in cramped outdoor cages, leading to crude and unsanitary living conditions.
The Downfall of Joe Exotic and the Decline of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park
In 2018, Joe Exotic was sentenced to 22 years in prison for a gamut of crimes, including animal cruelty and the murder-for-hire plot against his arch-nemesis Carol Baskin, the founder of Big Cat Rescue. Joe’s exit from the exotic pet trade also marked the decline of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. After his conviction, the authorities took over the zoo, and the animals were relocated to other accredited facilities. However, there was no information regarding what happened to Joe’s tigers. It’s believed that 200 tigers and lions vanished.
The Conspiracy Theories Surrounding the Disappearance of Joe’s Tigers
There have been several conspiracy theories regarding the disappearance of Joe’s tigers. Some allege that the original sellers of the animals’ underground-exotic-animal traders- took custody of them. Others have suggested that Joe executed the tigers before his incarceration. The third possibility is that many of the tigers were illegally bought, and hence, not documented, which made it easier for Joe to let them disappear.
The Looming Extinction of Tigers and the Contribution of Breeders like Joe Exotic
According to a report by the World Wildlife Fund, there are more tigers in captivity in the US than exist in the wild throughout the world. The report shows that breeders like Joe Exotic contributed to the tiger’s imminent extinction by breeding them for human exploitation, resulting in tigers that cannot survive outside their cages. Only a few reputable organizations in the US devoted to the conservation of tigers, such as Big Cat Rescue and the Tiger Conservation Fund, work to increase tiger populations in the wild, which is an uphill battle.
The Broader Questions surrounding America’s Exotic Animal Trade
The disappearance of Joe’s tigers raises broader questions regarding America’s exotic animal trade, particularly un-accredited facilities’ existence. These facilities make it possible for individuals to buy and sell exotic animals far too easily. The tigers may have been sold and re-passed onto other private collectors, fuelling an underground economy. This could be because the tigers’ existence provides bragging rights and social distinction for high-powered individuals who cherish owning something unique that no one else possesses.
In conclusion, the mysterious disappearance of Joe’s tigers is a dark reminder of the exploitation of animals and the obvious pitfalls of America’s exotic animal trade. The reality is that we should not own these animals, nor are they entitled to be in captivity for human consumption. It’s high time that the authorities crack down on un-accredited facilities and private ownership of exotic animals. The government must strengthen wildlife laws and regulations governing the purchase, breeding, and trading of tigers and other exotic animals. It may take time to reverse the damage, but we have a responsibility to take care of our planet and the creatures that call it home.