The new Netflix true crime docuseries, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness, is wildly popular among viewers. And really, how could it not be? The series follows a self-proclaimed "gay, gun-carrying redneck with a mullet" enmeshed in a bitter animal rights feud that culminates in an alleged murder-for-hire plot. Throw in deadly wild animals, cultish overtones, and a monstrous amount of meth, and this seven-part series is the perfect true crime binge-watch to get you through your weekend.
The man at the center of it all is Joe Exotic. The name, of course, is a stage name—all part of a larger-than-life persona that seems to have swallowed him up. In actuality, Joe Exotic was born Joseph Schreibvogel, though a string of complicated marriages leaves him known to some as Joe Maldonado-Passage. The multiple names are the least mind-boggling detail about Joe.
Throughout the documentary, Joe takes pride in his collection of hundreds of big cats—primarily tigers—at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. Joe rakes in the cash at his park by allowing visitors to get up close and personal with the animals, mainly through cub petting. But Joe isn’t the only one employing these tactics. Joe’s zoo has followed the guidance of a big-time high-end zookeeper, the charming and narcissistic Bhagavan "Doc" Antle, who may earn a fair amount of suspicion from viewers from the way he treats his employees and polyamorous wives. Among Joe’s other peers is the Tony Montana-esque zookeeper, Mario Tabraue, whose criminal activity has supposedly stayed in the past, despite spending quite a bit of time dodging the documentary crew.
Opposing these rough and colorful characters is Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue. Carole runs a sanctuary for tigers and other big cats who were raised in captivity and incapable of living a life back in the wild. She passionately lobbies against the selling and breeding of exotic animals and is a vocal animal rights activist. She’s also Joe Exotic’s biggest enemy.
Through all seven episodes of Tiger King, Joe and Carole clash over the rights humans have to own and interact with wild animals. Their quarrel quickly escalates. Joe streams an internet show full of harassment, issuing death threats against Carole; Carole launches legal actions that bring Joe to financial ruin. As their feud grows ever more ferocious, Joe and Carole are pushed to the brink of sanity—and beyond.
And yet, we've just scratched the surface of this beyond-bonkers case. Does Carole have a dark and deadly secret of her own? How big of a role do drugs play in Joe’s personal life?
Shocking stories unfold on all sides of this brutal animal rights dispute. As soon as you think you've got a handle on the story, Tiger King pulls the rug right out from under you.
Don't wait another second to dive into this wilder-than-fiction true crime docuseries. Click the button below to stream Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness now.
Featured still from "Tiger King" via Harbor Picture Company