Netflix’s new documentary series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, released on March 20, has become a global favourite. A Variety report noted that the true crime series tops the list of the most popular television and web shows on review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.
The seven-episode series, directed by Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, follows the story of Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, an American zoo owner, internet personality, country music singer, travelling showman, and one-time independent presidential candidate. He is popularly known as Joe Exotic, and the episodes in the series cover his bizarre lifestyle and runs-in with animal activist Carole Baskin.
In 2019, Exotic was sentenced to a 22-year prison sentence for causing harm to animals, which including shooting five tigers dead and burying them in his zoo in Oklahoma. Exotic was also convicted of hiring men to kill Carole Baskin, one of whom was an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agent.
If you’re not up for a seven-episode series, this 17-minute video takes a brief look at the made-for-television life of Exotic, who managed to run a zoo filled with up to an estimated 1,000 animals, all the while nurturing a parallel career of becoming a celebrity.
Joe Exotic packaged visuals from his zoo into webisodes that he released on his YouTube channel. These include videos of his country music efforts.
One of the major subplots of the Netflix series is Exotic’s conviction that Baskin was involved in the murder of her husband, who went missing in 1997 and was declared dead in 2002. Baskin inherited her husband’s sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue, after his death.
When Baskin started questioning Exotic over the breeding and sale of tigers, Exotic went on a crusade against Baskin, alleging that she had killed her husband and fed him to her tigers. Exotic even created a song, Here Kitty Kitty. The music video has a stand-in for Baskin feeding meat to her massive felines.