The Netflix docuseries “Tiger King” has quickly become a viral sensation, giving viewers a rare glimpse of the bizarre lives of “big cat people.” In the process, America fell in love with flamboyant zoo owner Joe Exotic, all while witnessing his shocking descent to insanity.
Birds of a feather flock together, so it is no surprise that people close to Exotic had some larger-than-life personalities as well. From suspected murderer Carol Baskin to
cult leader lion trainer Doc Antle, the series had no shortage of.unique people.
The series left off with Joe Exotic serving a 22-year-sentence in federal prison convicted on 17 federal charges of animal abuse and two counts of murder for hire. After five years of filming the series, production was finished by 2019. So, after the attention the series garnered, many people have been left wondering where America’s most acclaimed big cat people are today.
Joe is still serving his 22-year-sentence and in a recent interview with Netflix, admitted he feels ashamed of his actions. Not only did he reveal he is past the Carol Baskin drama, being locked up himself has put his treatment of animals into perspective.
“Go into a cage with your animals for a week. I mean, when I left the zoo and I sent my chimpanzees to the sanctuary in Florida and imagined what my chimpanzees went through for 18 years, I — I’m ashamed of myself,” he said.
It seems Joe’s notorious thirst for fame has finally been quenched, as he is said to be enjoying his new-found celebrity status. In a video posted on Twitter, Joe said, “You know it would be nice if I could actually see me being famous out there, but I’ve seen these same four walls for a year and a half now.”
Joe is said to want either Brad Pitt or David Spade to play him in the adapted screenplay of his life.
After the series, backlash directed at Carole Baskin was swift. While she still runs her Florida animal sanctuary “Big Cat Rescue,” her reputation has suffered at the hands of the series. Baskin said she even fears leaving her home because of the death threats that flooded in after the series aired. A doorbell camera at her sanctuary’s gates has captured as many as 30 people lingering each day.
Baskin is very unhappy with the way she was portrayed in the series and feels her depiction was unfair.
“The series presents this without any regard for the truth or in most cases even giving me an opportunity before publication to rebut the absurd claims,” Baskin wrote in a lengthy blog post. “They did not care about truth. The unsavory lies are better for getting viewers.”
Baskin’s late husband’s lawyers believe the mass inquiry regarding the circumstances surrounding his death means the sheriff’s department has “no choice” but to reopen the case.
Joe Exotic’s former lover John Finlay shocked viewers when it was revealed he fell in love with a woman who worked at the zoo. After getting his “Privately Owned by Joe Exotic” tattoo covered, John went on to marry the woman and it appears they are still together. Apparently the documentary didn’t show the finished product of the new tattoo and in a follow up interview on Netflix, John was eager to let viewers know the product was complete.
His new tattoo was not the only glow-up for Finlay. Viewers who last saw him on the series might be surprised to see that he is now sporting a brand new set of pearly whites.
Unfortunately, John wasn’t particularly pleased about the show’s depiction of him either.
“I was portrayed as a drugged-out hillbilly, and that was not me then,” he said. “At that time, I was four to five years clean.”
In a movie, Finlay said he would want Channing Tatum to play him. “Shia LaBeouf is No. 2 and Tom Hardy is No. 3,” he added.
Bhagavan “Doc” Antle
Despite the series shedding light on the questionable practices that go down at Doc Antle’s Myrtle Beach zoo, the facility known as “Myrtle Beach Safari” is still operational.
The show depicted the zoo as a sort of sex cult and alluded to Doc’s promiscuity. It seemed the women played just as big of a role in Doc’s persona as the cats did.
One former employee of the zoo, Barbara Fisher, revealed to viewers that sleeping with Doc was a way to move up the ranks. Doc insists he is depicted in a false light and the suggestion that he has multiple wives was completely fabricated.
“I am a guy that does date. I live alone in my house. I have a few girlfriends now and they certainly know about each other, but I am by no means married to anybody or have a harem like they are suggesting,” Antle told TMX.news.
During a recent appearance on “Lights Out With David Spade,” Jeff Lowe, Joe Exotic’s former mentor and business partner, confirmed that he still has plans to move the animals to a new 55-acre facility in Oklahoma this summer. He also revealed the zoo will be renamed as the “Oklahoma Zoo.”
According to director Eric Goode, the zoo is not as inviting as it may appear on the show. As a matter of fact, he revealed Lowe is struggling financially to the point where Goode fears many of the animals may die of starvation.
“All I can tell you is that he is basically operating on fumes. No one is going now and there’s no source of income, and that’s been going on for a long time” Goode said.
While Lowe admits that this is somewhat true, he is hopeful that the series will bring attention and revenue back to the zoo.
“The attention that this has brought will fill the bank account back up for a while, but it’s always depleted in the down time. When people don’t come to the zoo in the winter and we’re spending $5,000 or $6,000 a week on food and $2,500 on veterinary care, we struggle” he admitted.
Jeff’s wife Lauren gave birth to a baby girl named Sarah and they hired Masha, the nanny Jeff was uncomfortably excited about.
Exotic’s fourth husband is now working as a bartender in Florida. The 24- year-old is still married to Joe and said he has no regrets. He even has credited Joe for helping him kick his prescription drug addiction.
“Joe helped me get healthy again, get me in the right mental state. I felt alone. I felt like there was going to be nobody there for me. Joe made me feel like there was reason to be alive,” he said.
The stone-faced director never got to live out his dream of being the one to introduce America to Joe Exotic. As a matter of fact, it seems his life has taken quite the turn. He is said to be keeping a low profile in Norway where he is a freelance writer and is married. After the show, he has since revealed he shot footage of Joe Exotic killing his animals, but it was lost in an arson fire.
“Joe was a surreal, one-of-a-kind figure — a very, very evil guy at heart, but also very lost, and I think that is why you almost feel sorry for him in the documentary series at some point. Believe me, there is nothing there to feel sorry about. He was a very evil guy to the animals and the people that worked for him,” he said.
The Walmart employee-turned-campaign manager has completely left behind his brief encounter with the big cat world. Despite severing all ties with Joe Exotic, Dial cannot escape from the memory of tragically witnessing the death of Travis Maldanado.
After watching Exotic’s late husband shoot himself in the head, Dial says he suffers from PTSD to this day.
“I definitely have PTSD. There was no preparation for what I saw in that office,” he said.
A GoFundMe page was created to raise money that Dial could use to seek counseling. Nearly all of the $5,000 goal for Dial’s counseling has been reached, and an update earlier this week said he “has found a provider” and is currently being seen.
Kelci “Saff” Saffery
In one of the show’s most jaw dropping moments, Joe’s former employee had his arm bit off by a tiger. Despite this, he continued to work at the Zoo. Recently, Saffery relocated to California and is working a “clock in, clock out” job. A far cry from his reign as manager at the G.W. Zoo.
“I invested so much blood, sweat, and tears into that place, and for my own health and sanity, I needed to take a break,” he explained. “Those colleagues — and those were friends in the deepest meaning of the word — and I would love to reconnect. But I would also love to find myself first.”