My Thoughts on "Tiger King"

As the second week of quarantine came to a close, I found myself very bored. In search of something to fall asleep to, I watched a suggested documentary on Netflix, “Tiger King.” As I watched, I had unknowingly gotten myself into an addicting, twisted, crime-filled world of the exotic animal trade that would take me on a plotline right out of a book. After a week, I have had time to reflect and absorb my thoughts on the “Tiger King,” forewarning, spoilers ahead.

  1. There are that many tigers in the United States? Tigers are on the list of endangered species. There has been a significant movement by many zoos in the United States to sustain their numbers. The show estimated that there are between 5,000 and 20,000 tigers held in captivity in the United States, both legally and illegally. 

  2. You can get a tiger for $2,000???? At one point in the documentary, it was brought up that a tiger cub can be purchased for $2,000. There are some dog breeds that are more expensive than $2,000. Not to mention that they are an exotic, wild animal that has the potential to kill a person. 

  3. Places like this exist and people go to them. My family has done a fair amount of road-tripping throughout the U.S. We have driven past countless reptiles and other small animal “zoos”, however, we have never stopped nor had I ever seen a “zoo” that offers cub petting and other play like service that Joe Exotic and Doc Antle offered. 

  4. Joe Exotic definitely burned down the studio where the video footage was. His feud with Carole Baskin was coming to a forefront and the other side needed the footage that was in that shed. It makes perfect sense that he would destroy the evidence, even if it meant destroying innocent animals. 

  5. Carole Baskin killed her husband. This also makes perfect sense. Carol had the motive and resources to kill him, or have him “mysteriously disappear.” Also, she started putting all the assets in her name, stealing money from his family; clearly, she was not that close with his family. Also notable, is the differences in opinions they started to have about the animals. Carole started to become more interested in “saving” and rehabilitating the animals, meanwhile, Don was more interested in trading the animals and profiting from them. Don even wanted to move out of the United States so he could have more freedom to do as he wanted with the animals.

  6. Also, Carole Baskin is not the angelic savor she depicts herself to be. Yes, I agree that she does run a more rescue-esk facility than Joe Exotic and Doc Antle. She does not participate in breeding anymore. However, she once did participate in the breeding and trade of exotic animals. Also, while she was viciously running Joe through the legal system and drying out her bank accounts, what did she think was happening to all the animals he had? I think she hoped that he would have relinquished custody of the animals, however, I think it is obvious that was never going to happen. Carole Baskin also runs her own version of a cult through her volunteer system. Personally, I believe she is exploiting people in her volunteer program which requires hours and hours of volunteer service without pay. 

  7. Fame, fortune, and vanity can make people lose sight of what is important. Throughout the documentary, we see the three characters of Joe Exotic, Carol Baskin and Doc Antle go through a metamorphosis. As things get heated through lawsuits and U.S. policy, the emphasis shifts in the documentary from the animals and the capture and trade of wild and exotic animals to their personal feud. It can be argued, that not only as the documentary shifts focus, so does the focus in their personal lives

  8. Cub petting is wrong. I hope that in the lunacy of this whole “documentary” that it has been translated to the general public the damage of the cub petting and playtime trend. Yes, it may seem innocent enough. These cubs are born, they’re here to "repopulate the species", earning some money off of them to help the cause isn’t that bad. HOWEVER, participating in this activity encourages the mass breeding of these animals into a system that clearly cannot contain them nor care for them. Think about how many tigers the documentary claims are in the United States. Now think about how much a tiger eats and how much space they should really ideally have. The numbers don’t add up. Also, Doc Antle’s reputation for breeding tigers, lions, and ligers and how many cubs he has versus how many adult animals he has. Those numbers also don’t add up. 

I really hope that viewers of this “documentary” watch it and are not just simply entertained by the lunacy of the people portrayed in it but start to seriously think, analyze, and question the actions of these people and the far-reaching effects of their habits. For people who watch this “documentary” with a critical and skeptical eye, I think that it can be used as a great tool to educate people on the issues surrounding exotic animals in captivity. However, I think for most viewers, the message about the treatment of these animals and how our interaction with these businesses affects and encourages this industry gets lost in the lunacy of these people or characters' lives.