Tiger King Murder Mayhem and Madness

Howie and Carole in front of Capitol

Tiger King Murder Mayhem and Madness

The press and our own supporters are asking how I feel about the 6 part Netflix documentary that debuts March 20, 2020. I don’t know what to think about it, because I haven’t seen it yet.

I think the producer, Eric Goode, was well intentioned and hoped to create the Blackfish of captive big cats, exposing the abuse. However, when he sold it to Netflix, I believe they took over editorial control of how it came out.

I am disappointed by the trailer and the title because it seems to focus on the antics of narcissistic big cat abusers; rather than on the important issues. Like most articles, podcasts and recent reports, the storyline is portrayed as a feud between two people who have different opinions. For Joe Exotic it was a personal feud. His attacks against me were personal and staff from the zoo reported that he raved and ranted about me daily. For us, it was never personal about Joe. It was about stopping the abuse that is inherent in the cub petting industry when female tigers are speed bred and their cubs used as pay to play props and then discarded. But, sensationalism sells, and a “feud” is more sensational.

My hope is that, despite this unfortunate focus, the series will create an increased level of awareness around the cub petting and captive big cat issues reaching an audience that would not otherwise have any contact with these issues. I’ve talked with a couple of reporters who have seen the docuseries. One had only seen three episodes and said he didn’t think much was said about the bigger issue of how cub petting is driving the extinction of the tiger or how prevalent big cat abuse is in America. The other saw the whole series and said the film does touch on those issues. Until I’ve seen how much, or how little, the series exposes the fact that all cub handling is cruel and leads to the extinction of the tiger, I really don’t know what to say about the project.

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I expect that in order to foster the false feud narrative the series will drag up 25 year old lies about my former husband’s disappearance, just like the Wondery podcast did, even though it is totally irrelevant to the battle over cub petting abuse. I have addressed those old lies here:

https://bigcatrescue.org/joe-exotic-wondery-don-lewis/

I plan to watch the series and, even if I hate it, my hope is that it will increase awareness of the fact that there is no legitimate way to gawk at a captive born cub, or have an interaction with the creature, without being part of the abuse and the extinction of big cats in the wild. It is my understanding that the documentary will touch on, and hopefully expose to some extent, some of the other big cat exploiters, but not all of them who are listed here: https://bigcatrescue.org/joe-exotic-arrested-murder-hire/ Maybe those are documentaries for another day.

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