Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must’ve heard about Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, a new Netflix documentary series that has the whole world shook! The seven-episode series, has managed to do the impossible: temporarily distract millions of people stressed out by dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak!
Directed by Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin it focuses on Joseph Maldonado-Passage — aka Joe Exotic — and his Oklahoma exotic-animal park. With every episode and every passing minute the series gets weirder. However, even though a lot is revealed in the documentary, we dug up five juicy tidbits that the show itself didn’t reveal!
The accident that took John Reinke’s legs was even worse than described
John Reinke, former manager at Joe Exotic’s animal park, is shown many times putting on and taking off his artificial legs, explaining that he needs them not because of a cat attack, but due to a previous accident. Like everything in Tiger King, that’s only half of the dramatic story. Back in 2010, Reinke explained his accident to The Oklahoman newspaper. Though he describes it as a ziplining accident in the show, the article describes it as a bungee-jump accident — it certainly involved a fall from a terrifying height.
Carole’s missing husband is still missing
A large part of the series focuses on Joe Exotic’s nemesis, activist Carole Baskin, whose husband Don Lewis disappeared in 1997. Joe Exotic, who is now serving 22 years in prison for charges related to Baskin, claims over and over in the series that Baskin killed James and fed the remains to her big cats. On the website for Big Cat Rescue, her animal organization, Baskin refutes how she was portrayed in the documentary.
“(The directors) did not care about truth,” she says. “The unsavory lies are better for getting viewers.”
As for Don James himself, his disappearance remains a mystery. On Monday, Hillsborough, Florida Sheriff Chad Chronister even tweeted out a request for anyone with any leads in the case to call him.
Since @netflix and #Covid19 #Quarantine has made #TigerKing all the rage, I figured it was a good time to ask for new leads. #CaroleBaskin #DonLewis #Netflix #Tiger #BigCatRescue #JoeExotic #TigerKingNetflix #HCSO pic.twitter.com/LHoJcBZVOI
— Chad Chronister (@ChadChronister) March 30, 2020
Don’t blame the tiger for that missing hand
In the first episode, Kelci Saffery, one of Joe’s employees, is seen immediately after being bitten by a tiger. Saffery chooses to have the injured hand amputated rather than undergo numerous operations, returns to work just five days later, and shows up throughout the show displaying a stump. Saffery has said from the beginning that no one should blame the tiger and, though it’s not mentioned in the episode, the tiger was not put down.
In a 2013 statement, Saffery said, “I broke protocol and stuck my hand in a cat cage instead of using the stick provided.”
Actor David Spade interviewed Saffery in a video published March 27. “I just got complacent,” Saffery said about the injury. And the tiger didn’t pay the ultimate price for the bite. “(The tiger) wasn’t put down, we just moved it off of the park, off of display,” Saffery said.
Joe loves the publicity. Duh.
You couldn’t watch more than a minute of Tiger King and not realize Joe Exotic adores fame and publicity. Even though he’s now in prison, the directors told the L.A. Times that Joe knows the show has made him famous and he’s overjoyed. “He is absolutely ecstatic about the series and the idea of being famous,” Goode told the paper. “He’s absolutely thrilled.” And the directors aren’t buying Joe’s sudden change-of-heart. “He is in a cage and of course he’s gonna say that he now recognizes what he did to these animals,” Goode said.
Petting the cubs has a dark side
Joe Exotic earns money by charging visitors to come to his exotic-animal park and take photos cuddling with the big-cat cubs. But directors and writers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin told the L.A. Times that they never gave in and cuddled the the baby cats, especially after what they saw. “Most of the tigers we were around were subjected to abject cruelty,” Chaiklin said. “We saw babies being torn from their mothers and screaming. They’d get sick from being handled so much and get ringworm and mange. It was disturbing.”