"It's like some people from Walmart got together and made a documentary."
-- This Accurate Meme
“The monkey people are a little bit different, they’re kind of strange. But the big cat people are backstabbing pieces of shit.”
-- Netflix's Tiger King
I am broke as shit. I'm not changing the way I dress. I refuse to wear a suit. I've had some kinky sex. I have tried drugs."
- Joe Exotic in his campaign ad for the 2016 election
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (also called just "Tiger King") is a seven part Netflix true crime documentary by Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin following the actions of several figures in the sordid underbelly of exotic animal trading and big cat ownership in the United States. The series became insanely popular during the advent of the 2020 Covid19 outbreak and initial quarantine, and has since become one of Netflix's most-watched titles.
The titular Tiger King. The documentary takes place much of the time in the G.W. Zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, which Joe Exotic owns. He is a libertarian, gun-toting, gay 'cowboy' in a three way relationship with Travis Maldonado and John Finlay, who he attracted to him because he gives them drugs. he also ran for president in 2016, and ran for governor in Oklahoma. He lost both races, but managed to get 40,833 votes in the Oklahoma race. The documentary explores his increasingly questionable (and later, entirely unethical) treatment of the animals in his zoo, as well as his ongoing, and increasingly aggressive, feud with his blood sworn enemy. . .
CEO of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida, and a self-styled animal activist. She's trying to get what she considers to be unethical zoos and private animal collections regulated, specifically the use of cubs in public showings (where people pet baby tigers). However, as astute viewers will notice (and as Joe Exotic is quick to point out), Carol Baskins is also using tigers for profit while keeping them in fairly small enclosures.
Also she might have killed her mysteriously-vanished second husband for the insurance money, fed his body to tigers, and left his biological children and ex-wife (who he had left for Carol) with nothing.
Bhagavan "Doc" Antle
He's another private zookeeper in Myrtle Beach who runs a safari and a zoo. While not initially directly as involved with the drama as Joe Exotic and Carol Baskins, is probably the most "famous" zookeeper (or at least well connected), as his animals have often been used in movies. Some examples of films featuring Antle's animals include: Dr. Dolittle, Mighty Joe Young, the Jungle Book and The Jungle Book 2, and some Ace Ventura movies. However, like the others in the documentary, he's faces some serious criticism over the treatment of his animals. He's also one of the people Carol would like to have shut down.
Also, he runs a fuckin' sex cult. He has a group of attractive women who live on his property, work for him 24/7 at pennies on the dollar, who he renames and for whom he buys plastic surgery and breast augmentation.
Rick Kirkham is not a zookeeper, he is a producer that Joe Exotic hired for Exotic's pet project, "Joe Exotic TV", an online video series Joe wanted to make featuring himself and his park. It should be noted that Joe Exotic did already have a web show-- some of which is featured in the Netflix Documentary-- but the footage Kirkham was working on was mysteriously destroyed in a fire after Exotic realized that Kirkham may have recorded some of Exotic's illegal/unethical behavior.
While I won't go into detail recounting the events of the series, I will give some out of context highlights and encourage you to see for yourself.
----Expired grocery store meat being fed to the tigers.
----Expired grocery store meat being fed to Joe Exotic's workers, who used to be homeless people.
----Expired grocery store meat being given (unknowingly) to Joe Exotic's park customers at the park pizza place.
----Joe Exotic releasing fuckin' bops to spite Carol Baskin, complete with Carol Baskins body double.
----A hitman giving an interview while shirtless in a bathtub.
----Joe Exotic exploding, shooting, and beating an effigy of Carol Baskins that happened to be a blow-up doll.
----Footage of one of Joe Exotic's workers getting their arm torn off, cut with Joe Exotic having put on a medic's jacket and informing park guests that they were eligible for a discount because an employee had been attacked by an animal.
----"Hey all you cool cats and kittens."
----A mysterious arson that wound up killing Michael Jackson's alligators and a crocodile.