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Tiger King: Special episode starts controversy

by Robin Bakker

If you have not watched “Tiger King” on Netflix yet, then honestly, what else have you been doing during quarantine? It is not only a great way to pass time, but it also shows that your life is probably not as crazy as others. 

The documentary follows people who own tigers and exotic animals for private zoos. If you picture drug addict guys that just got out of jail and girls who are forced to get boob jobs, that is the main cast of the show. The lead character is Joe Exotic. Another big name is Carole Baskin, who owns a “rescue” in Tampa. Some sororities on campus have even volunteered there including The University of Tampa PEACE Volunteer Center.

As for how popular it is, Variety.com states that the show had about 34 million viewers in the first ten days after it was released. There were less viewers during “Stranger Things 2”, which had 31 million viewers and a little bit more viewers during “Stranger Things 3” which had 36 million viewers each within the ten day span.

Today, Joe is in jail for a count of murder for hire on Carole and breaking the endangered species act. But, there is a lot of controversy about his sentencing. Jeff Lowe, one of Joe’s business partners, had a big part on the murder for hire deal, yet got away with no charges.  

Another big case in the show was Carole’s husband Don Lewis, who has been missing since 1997. The show made it out to look like Carole fed him to the tigers. With no hard evidence, the police have kept it a cold case all these years.

In a CNN article, the Hillsborough county sheriff said that since the series aired, they have been getting about six tips a day about the case. He also said that he would love to close the case with the help of the public.

On top of all this, they added an after show, addressing where the cast is now and some things that were portrayed wrong. A lot of people said that this new episode was a disappointment to the rest of the series. Carole and another tiger owner did not show up because they were both mad that the series focused on “shock value and titillation rather than fact.” Carole even wrote a three thousand word argument about the way that she was portrayed was wrong.

When the quarantine is over, I would not be surprised if a lot of students want to go and check out the Big Cat Rescue for themselves as it is a less than 30 minute drive from campus. I, for one, want to go see if Carole looks as crazy as she was in the series. Though, I am not too certain if UT knows about the show or will allow the sororities to volunteer there. Especially with Don’s case being reopened. 

Netflix definitely released this series at the right time. Rather than going crazy in quarantine, we can see the craziness of others. No one can put in words just how crazy these people are, it is just something you have to watch if you haven’t already.

Robin Bakker can be reached at robin.bakker@spartans.ut.edu

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