It’s only March, and Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness has made a strong case for being the strangest thing you’ll watch all year. The Netflix docuseries has captivated audiences with its cast of outrageous, real-world characters, including zoo owner Joe Exotic, whose rivalry with other larger-than-life personalities in the world of exotic animal fans ultimately turned into a murder-for-hire plot.
Offering everything from polygamy and cults, to gangsters, drug-runners, con men, and more tigers than you can count, the series continually ups the ante with jaw-dropping revelations. After bingeing all seven episodes, you’re probably wondering what happened with everyone introduced in the series, so here’s a rundown.
(Note: If you haven’t watched the full series yet, consider this a spoiler warning.)
Joseph Maldonado-Passage (aka Joe Exotic)
As chronicled in the final episode, Joseph Maldonado-Passage was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison for the murder-for-hire plot against his archrival Carole Baskin, as well as other charges of animal abuse and falsifying records relating to the sale of exotic animals. He remains in prison following his sentencing earlier this year.
He has reportedly filed legal documents suing the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Federal Wildlife Service, claiming he was falsely arrested and that they added “generic tiger” to their list of endangered species for the sole purpose of being able to target businesses like his. The series’ co-director and writer, Eric Goode, says he’s spoken to Maldonado-Passage in prison and he is “absolutely ecstatic” about the series and the idea that he is now famous.
Maldonado-Passage claims to be a changed man, saying he realizes what he did to those animals all these years now that he is in a cage himself. He has filed an appeal.
Bhagavan “Doc” Antle
Antle, who Maldonado-Passage called an inspiration and mentor, wasn’t involved in much of the drama that went on between Maldonado-Passage and Baskin, but he was featured heavily in the docuseries as the owner of another very successful exotic animal park. The docuseries also raised questions about whether he was running a sort of cult, based on an interview with a former female employee, and discusses his polyamorous lifestyle with multiple female partners.
Antle’s Myrtle Beach Safari, called The Institute for Greater Endangered and Rare Species (aka TIGERS), is still very much up and running, with Antle at the helm. His safari was raided in December 2019 but police reportedly did not find anything incriminating.
Antle says the raid had nothing to do with the docuseries, but rather with the fact that he owned lions who were descendants of lions from a park that had been closed down due to animal cruelty. Antle’s 30-year-old son Kody, who he calls a real-life Tarzan, also works at the zoo.
Baskin, who says she was told the docuseries would be similar to Blackfish, the 2013 documentary film that called out SeaWorld for its alleged treatment of captive killer whales, is not happy with the show. She continues to run the Big Cat Rescue animal sanctuary in Tampa, Florida, and still posts frequently to her YouTube channel with videos welcoming “all you cool cats and kittens.”
However, like many other businesses, Big Cat Rescue closed down temporarily in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. It has been confirmed that Saturday Night Live‘s Kate McKinnon will play Baskin in an upcoming scripted series project.
Baskin recently posted a lengthy and detailed blog on her website refuting all negative claims made about her in the series, including implications that she might have killed her husband, Don Lewis.
First painted as a knight in shining armor who swept in and saved Maldonado-Passage and his park from Baskin’s claws, the tides quickly turned and Maldonado-Passage and Lowe had a falling out. With the zoo now in Lowe’s name — a strategic decision they agreed upon together — the zoo is still open and renamed Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.
However, Lowe has confirmed plans to close the park down and move everything to a new operation in Thackerville, Oklahoma, called the Oklahoma Zoo. Lowe is reportedly still trying to get the new park off the ground, including approaching celebrities like Shaquille O’Neal to invest. The new park was supposed to open in the summer of 2020, but that might be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With Goode believing that Lowe has been “operating on fumes” for quite some time, the zoo may never see the light of day unless he can find another knight to ride in on a horse and save it like he once did for Maldonado-Passage.
Finlay was Maldonado-Passage’s second husband (his first passed away due to complications from HIV) and the co-husband when Maldonado-Passage brought in Travis Maldonado to complete their polyamorous relationship. It was a shock when Finlay revealed he wasn’t actually gay and was having sexual relations with many female employees at the zoo, one of whom he impregnated.
Most notable from the docuseries for his shirtless interviews and his missing teeth, Finlay left the park after getting into a fight with Maldonado-Passage and being accused of abuse. Most interestingly: He had his teeth fixed and posted photos to social media, grinning from ear to ear. He criticized Netflix for not showing any footage of him with his new teeth on the docuseries.
Finlay now appears to be in a relationship with a woman and living somewhere in Texas.
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