“They did not care for the truth.” How Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin and more reacted to Tiger King.


For those uninitiated, Netflix’s Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness is a lot.

It’s a seven-episode docuseries that explores big cat ownership in the US and the… colourful characters within that world.

The documentary profiles a “gay, gun-toting cowboy with a mullet” (AKA Joe Exotic) and weaves in storylines involving murder-for-hire, polygamy, a cult-like leader, a mysterious disappearance, heavy drug use, an ex-drug lord, countless big cats and exploitation of both animals and humans.

Now that the series has bought these issues, and the real-life characters behind them, into the spotlight, here’s how the likes of Exotic, Carole Baskin and Doc Antle and more have responded to the Netflix hit.

Joe Exotic

Currently incarcerated at Federal Medical Center Fort Worth in Texas, Joe Exotic is currently serving a 22 year sentence for two counts of murder for hire, eight violations of the Lacey Act, and nine violations of the Endangered Species Act.

While he’s unable to comment on the mass reception of his story, the co-director of Tiger King, Eric Goode said the former zoo keeper is “absolutely thrilled”.

“Joe has called up my co-director, Rebecca Chaiklin and I from jail since the airing of the documentary and, you know, he has lived his entire life just to be famous and so to finally realise this fame is just… He’s tickled pink,” he told Lad Bible.

“Even though he’s behind bars it’s really interesting to see Joe’s response – it’s incredible, and very surprising.”

joe exotic now
Looks like Joe was chuffed with the response to the documentary. Image: Netflix.

Carole Baskin

Carole Baskin did not get a stellar representation in this series and she's made her distaste at the Netflix series known. Throughout the series, it was loosely hinted by Exotic that the owner of Florida’s Big Cat Rescue may have had a hand in the disappearance of her husband, Don Lewis in 1997.

Baskin has also refuted several claims made by the docuseries in a blog post with Big Cat Rescue. She alleges that the directors of Tiger King originally told her they wanted to create a documentary "that would expose the misery caused by the rampant breeding of big cat cubs for cub petting exploitation" and says she was misled.

joe exotic now
Carole Baskin in Tiger King. Image: Netflix.

"There are not words for how disappointing it is to see that the series not only does not do any of that, but has had the sole goal of being as salacious and sensational as possible to draw viewers," she wrote.

"As part of that, it has a segment devoted to suggesting, with lies and innuendos from people who are not credible, that I had a role in the disappearance of my husband Don in 1997.

"The series presents this without any regard for the truth or in most cases even giving me an opportunity before publication to rebut the absurd claims. They did not care about truth. The unsavoury lies are better for getting viewers."


However in light of all the attention around Tiger King, Hillsborough County Sheriff, Chad Chronister has asked the public for new leads surrounding the disappearance of Lewis.

"Mahamayavi Bhagavan" Kevin Antle / Doc Antle

After allegations of animal cruelty and abuse were alleged in the documentary, Kevin Antle has largely dispelled the claims.


In a now-deleted Instagram post from Myrtle Beach Safari, the trainer discredited the series as a documentary.

"We can only assume it is because Doc Antle has been such a high profile wildlife personality for so many decades that his association would create more buzz," read the post, as reported Bustle.

"It is important to understand that this series is not a documentary; it’s sensationalised entertainment with paid participants.

"Tiger King is the bizarre story of Joe and Carole and their feud. These characters are not representative of experts in the wildlife sector or world class facilities like ours here in Myrtle Beach."


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Jeff Lowe

Despite starting the series as Exotic's friend, Jeff Lowe ends up buying Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park from Exotic after his arrest.

The business man has also come out as critical of Tiger King.

"They touched on about 10 per cent of the story and, you know, the portrayal of us stealing the zoo from Joe was very unfair because we came here to help him, we got it back on its feet," Lowe told The Media Exchange.

"We left to move away because we didn't want to be in a zoo in Oklahoma, so the notion that we tried to steal the zoo from him is just ridiculous."

Image: Netflix.

John Finlay

Just one of Exotic's former husbands – he's currently on his fourth marriage to Dillon Passage – Finlay said his portrayal made him look like a "drugged-out Hillbilly".

In all fairness to Finaly, the majority of his on-screen portrayal was of him being shirtless while sporting a toothless smile.

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, he said the docuseries failed to show "the new and improved" version of him.

“I'm waiting to get my story out, to be able to sit down with a producer or reporter to actually get the whole story out. And to really let the world know what my life was actually like," he said.

Tiger King Joe Exotic Carole Baskin
Image: Netflix.

Also, just in case you're wondering, Finlay has since gone on to have his teeth fixed and shared a photo of his new pearly whites on Facebook.

"Yes I have my teeth fixed. The producers of the Netflix series had video and pictures of this, but chose not to show it," he wrote in a post from March 26.

Since leaving Exotic's Animal Park, he now also lives with his fiance, Stormey.

Rick Kirkham

After his hopes of a reality TV show of Joe Exotic was dashed due to the loss of his footage in a fire, Rick Kirkham has lent his support to the Netflix doco.

Speaking to TMZ, he said that the documentary was "so accurate, it's frightening".

"I've actually had nightmares the past few nights since it's been airing. If anything the documentary doesn't go far enough to show how crazy Joe was."

Tiger King Joe Exotic Carole Baskin
Image: Netflix.

In the same interview he also alleges that Exotic once shot a rescue horse and fed it to his tigers.

"That was Joe Exotic on a daily basis," he said.

Kirkham also said he remained as to Baskin's ethics in the big cat ownership industry.

"I think Carole has done the same thing Joe has done for years – breeding cats, making money off breeding cats and letting people come in and see the cats. The only thing is that I don't think she abuses the animals quite as bad as Joe has."

All seven episodes of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness are available to watch on Netflix now.

Feature Image: Netflix.

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