tiger

With everyone being stuck inside these days, Netflix’s newest documentary series hit, “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” has been receiving a lot of attention online. The show has everything that anyone could ask for to be entertained by: murder, mystery, chaos and endless feuds.

There are a lot of different storylines explored in the limited series, but the main focus is on the self-proclaimed ‘Tiger King’ Joe Exotic. Exotic runs an animal park on his property with big cats and other animals such as camels and chimpanzees. 

While the story starts here, it quickly takes a turn and brings to light legal issues, feuds, and scandal among the different park owners and Exotic himself, largely focusing on the eccentric zookeeper’s arrest for murder-for-hire. 

I know; it sounds crazy. There are far more twists and turns in this series than I could even attempt to recap. I’ll just cover the basics here.

The other showcased big cat owners are Jeff Lowe, Doc Antle and Carole Baskin. All of whom have different agendas than the others when it comes to their parks. I liked that the series showcased all different sides of this lifestyle. 

Lowe’s side of it is having the most power in the game, Antle’s is putting on a show to make money and Baskin’s is being an active role in stopping the breeding of tigers in captivity. 

All of these people and their interviews were juxtaposed in just the right way to make sure the audience never forgets about any of the players.

I also liked that it seemed to dedicate every episode to a different theme so as not to confuse the audience with too much happening in one episode. 

The camerawork is something else to admire in “Tiger King.” There are some really well-placed shots that match up with the dialogue in ironic ways. One example of this comes later in the series.

After Exotic’s arrest, there is a recording of a telephone call that he makes from prison complaining about being in a cage played over a tiger at his own zoo pacing in his cage. The irony is impossible to miss, and shots like this recur throughout the series.

The limited series is an interesting one for sure. I for one wasn’t even aware that there was this community of people who ran parks full of exotic animals right on their own property. Exotic alone at one point owned around 700 tigers. Just trying to imagine that in my community is insane to me.

One aspect that I found the most upsetting was the turn from seeing Exotic care for these animals to merely viewing them as a way for him to make some quick cash. The editing done on the show does a great job of ensuring that the audience sees the shift in the environment at the zoo from stability and love to chaos and hunger for money. 

He went from lines in the first episode such as, “There is a very emotional connection between me and these cats. Extreme,” to saying, “This is five-thousand dollars right here,” when holding a newly born tiger cub in a later episode. 

If the series achieves nothing else, maybe it will shed some light on the problem that people have with greed and just how far they can get lost in their search for money.

While the series is addicting, it may also be a sensitive subject for some. There is talk and show of mistreatment of these animals, and the fact that they are confined to these small areas is enough to show that they should not be confined to these conditions.

These are wild, beautiful animals and, as one of the episodes states, there are far fewer of them left in the wild than there are in captivity today. If you are in any way an animal rights activist and/or are on a vegan diet due to your belief in the fair treatment of animals, this limited series may not be for you.

I would recommend “Tiger King” to anyone looking for a source of entertainment while stuck at home. The people that are interviewed are so wild-mannered and interesting that it is sometimes hard to believe they are actual people with these types of personalities. 

The lives that these people lead are far more attention-keeping than anything else you’ll be doing during this period of quarantine. Give it a watch if you haven’t already.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.

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