Amid a pandemic and protests across the nation for the killing of George Floyd, we got a strange “Tiger King” update: Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue and woman who probably killed her husband years ago has been awarded Joe Exotic’s old zoo via court proceedings, forcing current owner Jeff Lowe off the property in 120 days.
For some, this is infuriating. It means Baskin gets the last laugh, with Exotic in prison for a murder for hire plot as well as countless charges of animal abuse. But in truth, Exotic already lost his fight long ago, and the fate of his G.W. Zoo was already decided, as Lowe planned to move the zoo anyways to Thackerville, Okla. It appears that Baskin will only get the land and buildings of the zoo, meaning Lowe will keep the animals.
But if “Tiger King” has taught us anything, it’s that the story of this particular group of individuals is anything but cut-and-dry, and I would not be surprised if Lowe pulls off some legal maneuvers of his own to deny Baskin ownership of the zoo, not that it’d be in his best interest. He’s made it clear that he has little to no interest in continuing the zoo at its current location, and if Baskin and her allies at PETA have proven anything, it’s that they are relentless.
What’ll happen next in the Lowe/Exotic/Baskin saga is uncertain, but I predict there will be some sequel “Tiger King” series in a year or two. It’s clear that their story is not over, and while Exotic was the first of the people featured in the Netflix docuseries to go down, I doubt he’ll be the last.
Netflix has exposed the hidden world of big cat ownership in this country, and it is as corrupting as it is dubious. It doesn’t help that the laws in place about big cats have a hamfisted understanding of the reality of zoos that need big cats (i.e. imposing a breeding ban on endangered big cat species), as well as the lack of government oversight. The fact that Exotic got away with feeding his cats expired Walmart meat for so long is a real indictment of government regulation of big cats in the United States.