The ‘Tiger King’ crew: Get to know the hit show’s cast of characters
Netflix’s Tiger King was a huge hit for the streaming platform, and it’s easy to see why. The sheer absurdity of the documentary’s many twists and turns make it perfect viewing for the coronavirus era. Joe Exotic and his menagerie of animals have become a part of the pop culture zeitgeist, with some individuals even lobbying President Trump to give him a pardon. (The trolltastic billionaire pol replied that he’ll “look into it”).
However, it was the crazy cast of characters around larger-than-life Joe Exotic that make Tiger King so memorable. Has the newfound fame and public interest changed their lives indelibly, or have the Tiger King cast continued on with life as normal? Read on to find out what Joe Exotic, John Finlay, and Carole Baskin are up to now.
The eponymous Tiger King, Joe Maldonado-Passage was in Grady County Jail in Oklahoma serving a 22-year sentence for seventeen counts of animal abuse and two counts of murder-for-hire. He is currently in quarantine in a Texas jail.
On March 17th, 2020 Joe filed a $94-million lawsuit against the U.S. government and Jeff Lowe, who now runs the Greater Wynnewood Zoo instead of Joe. He alleges the government was involved in his mother’s death and that Lowe offered up false statements under oath.
Jeff Lowe continues to run Greater Wynnewood with his wife Lauren, who gave birth to a baby girl after the filming of Tiger King. He currently has a new local zoo in the works – no word on whether he will stay at Greater Wynnewood.
Finlay is Joe’s ex-husband, who was also having relationships with several women at the animal park. In 2014, he abandoned the troubled relationship and claims he and Joe were never legally married. Finlay is now a welder and lives with his fiancée Stormey. He also has a Facebook page to correct information presented in the series.
Carole Baskin, who operated as Joe Exotic’s main rival, came out with a statement after the Tiger King premiere bashing the series for being salacious. Baskin has disregarded the show’s implication that she may have had something to do with the death of her husband Don Lewis, who disappeared.
The 58-year-old now lives with third husband Howard Baskin at the Big Cat Rescue facility in Florida, where she promotes the end of big cat breeding and the animals’ capture and captivity.
After Tiger King’s airing, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister started investigating the disappearance of Baskin’s ex-husband Don Lewis. Chronister told TMZ he believes there was more than one person likely involved, and hopes someone will eventually come forward to reveal what happened.
Lewis’s attorney Joseph Fritz also spoke to TMZ: he believes the answers to his location are forthcoming and that and that “street people” are the main sources of information.
Doc Antle released a statement that expressed disappointment in Tiger King and alleged that producers paid individuals in the series.
Antle claims his Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.) currently follows all animal welfare regulations and that he doesn’t keep a “harem” of women. He prefers to call them “more than one girlfriend”. According to TMZ, Antle is currently under investigation by various agencies for crimes pertaining to the illegal transportation and sale of exotic species.
Rick Kirkham was the producer who shot Joe Exotic’s reality TV web series and began his career as a crime reporter who smoked crack while appearing on Inside Edition. He presently lives in Bodo, Norway, and is working on a new documentary about a man with a thrilling double life.
Kelci Saffery, who lost part of an arm by a tiger and returned to work a mere five days after, is reportedly still employed at the zoo. Saffery, who is trans and prefers to go by Saff with he/him pronouns, said during the Tiger King aftershow that Ken Jeong could play him in a hypothetical movie of the story.
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