Netflix releases new ‘Tiger King’ docuseries

Analei Berger, Around Creek Editor

With everyone stuck in quarantine, the only “logical” thing for many is turn to Netflix. As it so happens, as people were being forced to stay-at-home, Netflix released the now meme worthy and popular documentary: Tiger King. The documentary series has a very enticing subtitle that states, “murder, mayhem and madness,” and it is exactly those words. It is currently ranked the number one most watched show on Netflix for this month and got over 34 million views within the first ten days of its launch date, which is just behind the release of Stranger Things Season 3. And rightfully so, whether people watch it to laugh at the king of rednecks, Joe Exotic, or to mock the now infamous “husband killer” Carole Baskin.

The title of the first episode is called Not Your Average Joe and viewers first get introduced to Joe Exotic through a phone call from the Grady County Jail. By the way, Joe Exotic’s real name is Joe Screibvogel. He was sentenced to jail for 22 years, mainly for two accounts of attempted murder by a hitman and was charged for other smaller things. The “murder-for-hire” was out against the Big Cat Rescue founder and animal rights activist, Baskin. It was revealed in the documentary that both Screibvogel and Baskin have been in a feud since 2006.

Another exotic thing that Screibvogel is known for is running for president back during the 2016 election. Obviously he did not win, but that did not break his stride. He started over and ran for governor in Oklahoma for the 2018 election. He ran as a write-in candidate for the libertarian party. Once again, he did not win. Needless to say that it would not be shocking if people heard “Joe Exotic for President” again in 2042 upon his release from prison.

Baskin and Screibvogel’s feud started whenever Screibvogel toured the country from mall to mall promoting keeping tigers in captivity and showing off his animals. Baskin would begin to write different letters and emails to the malls he would visit encouraging the mall to cancel his show. She would also motivate her followers to do the same – and they did.

Tiger King begins in 2014 with Screibvogel introducing the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park (G.W. Zoo), which he had opened in 1999. Back then, he had a collection of over 200 tigers and various other exotic animals. The appearance of Joe Exotic could be described as a colorful man with a mullet, with an eyebrow piercing and a gun to his side. Baskin has the complete opposite look of Screibvogel. She usually sports a  long and flowy animal print dress with a flower crown placed on the top of her head.

Throughout the episode multiple other characters are introduced. Some of them are the staff at the G.W. Zoo. All of the staff members were outcasts and all had a love for big cats. Their names were; Jon (aka Rink), Erik and Kelci (aka Saff). And in fact, Kelci was bit by a tiger on his forearm and the doctors ended up having to amputate it and he later went back to work just a few days after the arm was cut off. He said that he did not want to make the zoo look bad in fear that the attendance would decrease. That just shows the loyalty of his staff.

It was also revealed in the documentary how expensive it is to raise and feed tigers and other animals. To cut on costs Screibvogel would have their local Walmart collect all of their old and expired meat into a truck and bring it to the G.W. Zoo. The meat was dumped and his staff got first dibs on what meats they wanted for that day – it was also said that they took what they could because their living conditions were so bad. The rest of the meat was given and fed to the tigers.

Throughout the seven episodes there were other unique characters that were revealed. Some honorable mentions from the show are Doc Antle, another owner of an exotic “safari” in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and the multiple wives that he has working alongside him. There are so many twists and turns in the story that the only way anything will make sense is to just watch the show, but even then one is left speechless.

People also cannot forget Baskin’s first husband that suddenly disappeared down in Costa Rica. Baskin thought that she would come on the documentary to raise awareness for what is going on in the US with the exotic animal trade – and that was accomplished – but she also got backlash from people who speculated that there was foul play involved in her husband’s disappearance.

“Ha ha. The only way to get a tiger to eat someone is to cover them in sardine oil or something,” Baskin said.

She has since been accused in the past and now for killing her husband and feeding him to the tigers. This quote does not really help her case much either. Did she kill her husband? She also said that the meat grinder the couple owned would have only been able to grind something as big as a hand. There is also some speculation that she put his body in a septic tank on their property.

As if this story could not get any more bizarre, Screibvogel has been confirmed to have the coronavirus in prison. It is ironic that the thing that has made him so famous, could eventually be his downfall.