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Tiger King (2020)

Questioning the Story:

Did Joe Exotic sing his own songs?

No. In the documentary, we see Joe Exotic singing in tiger-themed music videos. However, the Tiger King true story reveals that it was not actually Joe Exotic's voice we were hearing. "No, that is not Joe singin'," said ex-boyfriend John Finlay. The documentary's director, Eric Goode, confirmed this in a Netflix UK video chat, stating, "Joe lip-synced most of his songs, and he would literally go up to people with his album and say that he's number three on the charts. And it was so shameless that he could actually do that, you know, take himself so seriously, when of course, it wasn't even his music." Author and podcaster Robert Moor said that a group called The Clinton Johnson Band performed the tracks, with Joe Exotic lip-syncing in the music videos. Watch the "I Saw a Tiger" Music Video.

Was Joe Exotic singing in his music videos? Tiger King director Eric Goode says Joe Exotic was lip-synching.

Does Doc Antle believe that Netflix's Tiger King portrayed him accurately?

No. In addressing Tiger King's lies, Antle described the docuseries as being a "train wreck of entertainment." He claims that directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin misled him and did not tell him that the series was going to be about the cutthroat rivalry between Oklahoma zookeeper Joe Exotic (real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage) and animal rights activist Carole Baskin. Instead, he believed they were making a wildlife conservation documentary that was going to focus on his efforts to help save endangered species. "People love to be fanatics," says Antle of the filmmakers. "Extremism is a popular notion, and that extremism was focused on us a bit throughout the show, that there's somehow, someway something inappropriate going on, which is why they attacked us on the silliest dang fronts" (Theo Von Interview).

"This is not a documentary," Antle told TMX News. "This is a salacious, outrageous ride through a television show produced to create drama, to just tie you into some crazy train wreck of a story between the feud of Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic." Antle says he is considering litigation against the filmmakers over Tiger King's lies about him (Theo Von interview).

Is Bhagavan "Doc" Antle a polygamist?

No, at least not according to Doc Antle. Netflix's Tiger King documentary makes it look like Doc Antle has multiple wives and is essentially a cult leader with female followers. However, Antle says that his wife died 25 years ago. During an interview with Theo Von, Antle corrected the documentary's alleged lies. "I'm a single guy," says Antle. "I was married 25 years ago, but I'm a single guy. I got girlfriends. They've come and gone over the years. I mean, it can't be unique that I have girlfriends. It's just that they got put on a screen and said this and that. Then they included my son's fiancée and my grandson's kids, my granddaughters, and everybody else. You're like, 'Look at that line up of all those ladies.' Those ladies are my relatives and/or the significant others of my staff and my friends that are here helping me out."

"This massive judgmentalness [sic] of somehow I’m not supposed to have girlfriends ... They are just looking for something to be outrageous," Antle told TMX News.

[The notion that] the ladies are very young and are taken advantage of, all from the drither that was coming out of the one unique character's mouth that talked on there, the girls that are here, these are women in their 40s, rolling up on 50, those are the key characters that help run the preserve. These aren't teenagers that are walkin' around here. Granted, some of them have been here for decades, but these are girls that operate this facility that are kick-ass, lion-tamer girls who hold their own and have been doing so and operating the facility autonomous from me. I don't even have to be here and they can make it roll along and have everything work out." -Theo Von

Doc Antle says he has girlfriends but has never had multiple wives. His wife died 25 years ago.

When do tiger cubs become too dangerous to be handled by humans?

As indicated in the Netflix documentary, researching the Tiger King fact vs. fiction confirms that tiger cubs become too dangerous to be coddled by humans at around four months of age.

Did Doc Antle ever euthanize tiger cubs?

The Netflix Tiger King docuseries raises the possibility that Doc Antle euthanized cubs who were too old to safely interact with humans. In the series, former zoo owner Tim Stark says Antle told Joe Exotic that it's a bad business decision to keep them all "because once a tiger gets out of the stage where you can use them, they're nothing more than a bill then." Doc Antle strongly denies that he ever euthanized tiger cubs. "They know that that's not true and that euthanizing cubs is illegal, immoral, and absolutely never happens here and never has,” he told TMX News. It should be noted that Tim Stark has been stripped of his USDA license to exhibit animals and both himself and his zoo have been fined a total of $340,000 for 120 alleged violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

"The huge line [with regard to the true story] they stepped over was there at the end, bringing up on the black screen that they have asked me about some inappropriateness with tiger cubs and I haven't answered, when in fact these guys talked to me for maybe five full days of filming and three or four half days. They asked me every question in the world. 99% of them had nothing to do with anything that was going to become Tiger King, and they just picked and chose little pieces. Of course I run this incredible, world-class operation. I have tiger cubs that live with me cradle to grave. No tiger babies are ever going to be euthanized or ever gonna be squished out of the way. They're incredibly precious to us, all the way from what they provide us, to just their very nature, to they have hyper value. They're super rare."

Unlike what the Netflix documentary claims at the end, Doc Antle has in fact answered the question regarding whether he euthanizes tiger cubs.

Antle says that adult tigers also play a key role in Myrtle Beach Safari's tours. They swim with them in the large pools, they have a high-speed tiger run, and 22 adults are part of the zoo's nighttime safari dinner party. "Every tiger has a vital importance to us and are critical characters. Plus, this idea that someone would do that. Taking a tiger and killing it. Taking a tiger and 'getting rid of it' somehow, it's a crime. It's immoral. There's no purpose to it and it's not going to be something that creates a benefit of business." Antle says that the tigers are bottle-fed by humans and are imprinted. They're essentially their fur-children in a way. He also says that, at one time, they had the world's oldest cat.

Was Doc Antle's zoo, Myrtle Beach Safari, raided?

No, at least not according to Antle. This seems to be another piece of Netflix Tiger King fiction. It states at the end that Bhagavan "Doc" Antle's Myrtle Beach Safari was "raided."

"What a joke," Antle said during a Theo Von Podcast Episode. "We had an inquiry from a Virginia magistrate who wanted to get some DNA from some lion cubs that we had." Antle says that the owner of a small hometown zoo had been closed down and he gave Antle several tiger cubs he could no longer take care of. However, the owner never told the state what he did, and while the state believed him, they needed DNA proof that Antle had the baby lions in question. "They said, 'We believe you but we have to have unequivocal proof. We've got to know that's the lions, so let's take DNA from those lions and we'll be on our way.' I was never found, or even questioned of doing anything wrong, or having stepped over any line of any kind," says Antle of what he claims are Tiger King lies.

Doc Antle says unlike what's stated at the end of the docuseries, Myrtle Beach Safari was never raided.

Are there more tigers living in captivity in America than there are in the wild?

The Tiger King documentary claims that there are more tigers living in captivity in America than living free in the wild. However, Doc Antle, owner of Myrtle Beach Safari, says that this is absolutely fiction. "That incredible blither that there are more tigers in America than there are in the wild is a hundred percent a lie," says Antle. "There may be a thousand or so tigers in America, but there are certainly not 5,000. There are hundreds of tigers in private zoos. There may be dozens of people in the entire country that would have a tiger somehow and not have a federal oversight USDA zoo license called an Exhibitor's License. It's unheard of."

Antle says that the Netflix documentary puts forth "endless misleading information about the stats of big cats and where they are." He says that there's no evidence that there are 10,000 big cats hidden out there, or that there's a risk to first responders. "If there's 10,000 of them hidden out there, you'd hear about it all day long," he says. According to Antle, it's "absolutely not true" that they are all over Texas. "A big cat census was done about 14 years ago, and they only found 17 unregistered tigers in the state of Texas," he says. "Thousands is a crazy thing." Antle says that it also makes no sense given that each tiger eats 10-15 pounds of meat every day. "That's a hell of a freezer," he says. People simply don't have the money or the resources to keep them as pets.

In researching the Tiger King true story, we discovered that the documentary likely got its figure from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which has stated that it believes there are as many as 10,000 tigers living in captivity in America, while an estimated 3,900 remain in the wild. It should also be noted that the media often massively exaggerates the number of tigers in America, while academic estimates place the number much lower.

Is Shaquille O'Neal friends with Joe Exotic?

No. Former NBA star Shaquille 'Shaq' O'Neal, who appears in the documentary, was quick to set the record straight after its release on Netflix. He stated that despite visiting Joe Exotic's G.W. Zoo on multiple occasions and calling Joe his "main man" in the documentary, he is "not friends" with Joe Exotic and had "no idea any of that stuff was going on." Shaq also claims that he did not have any business dealings with Joe Exotic (USA Today). Fox Sports reported that Shaq has himself owned two tigers that live on a farm in Florida. Due to some of Shaq's comments, it's possible he has owned others as well.

Shaquille O'Neal, who in the docuseries called Joe Exotic his "main man," now says he is not friends with Exotic.

Was it John Finlay's idea to walk around shirtless for the documentary?

"No, that was actually kinda the director's idea," Finlay said on Lights Out with David Spade. "It was kinda the sex appeal type thing." Finlay said that they had footage of him with his shirt on, but they chose not to include that.

Was John Finlay married to Joe Exotic?

No, not according to Finlay. Despite the docuseries showing a pink-shirted wedding celebration between Joe Exotic, John Finlay, and Travis, Finlay has stated numerous times that he was never legally married to Joe Exotic, including in this David Spade John Finlay Interview.

What is John Finlay doing today?

Finlay says that he has been off drugs for several years and that he works as a welder and is engaged to be married, but not to the woman he got together with in the series. However, they did have a child together. Below, he is pictured with his fiancée, Stormey Sanders. Finlay also got new teeth, a process he says was more painful than any of his numerous tattoos. In a Facebook post, Finlay said that the filmmakers did have footage of his new teeth, but they chose not to include it in the documentary.

According to the documentary, John Finlay's teeth were destroyed by meth use. Finlay says that the filmmakers had footage of his new teeth, but they chose not to include it. Finlay is pictured with fiancée Stormey Sanders.

Did Kelci 'Saff' Saffery really blame himself for getting bit in the arm by a tiger?

Yes. In an interview with David Spade, Kelci 'Saff' Saffery, a trans man, said that he got complacent and that it was an "absolute 100% mistake" when he reached through the cage and wasn't fully aware of the tiger. Like on the show, he chose to have his arm amputated instead of going through two years of surgeries and rehab. Saff says that the tiger wasn't put down. "We just moved it off of the park, off of display, and now it's just being a tiger outside of the public eye." He said that the gruesome incident was caught on film, which he watched shortly after returning to the park. Like in the series, he returned to the park a week after getting bit and five days after the amputation. -Lights Out with David Spade

Was Kelci 'Saff' Saffery pleased with the documentary?

In exploring the Tiger King fact vs. fiction, we learned that Saff's main complaint seems to be that the documentary misgendered him, referring to him in terms of his biological gender, female.

Kelci 'Saff' Saffery said that Tiger King misgendered him.

How long did Rick Kirkham, the producer of Joe Exotic's Internet show, live at the zoo?

"I lived in the zoo for a year," said Kirkham. He agreed to work there so long as he could film a reality show while he was helping Joe Exotic with his Internet show. Unfortunately, the Tiger King facts confirm that Kirkham's footage was lost in the suspicious fire, as seen on the show.

Did Joe Exotic kill some of his own tigers?

According to Joe Exotic's reality show producer, Rick Kirkham, this is the darker side of the true story. Kirkham said that he had the footage of Joe killing animals, but it burned up in the fire. "There was footage in there of Joe actually killing animals for fun," Kirkham said during an interview on Lights Out with David Spade. "In the course of my year, he'd a walked up to a tiger he didn't like and just shot it in the head."

Kirkham told the story of a woman who brought an old horse in a trailer to Joe's G.W. Zoo. She told Joe that she could no longer care for the animal and asked him if he'd take it and give it a good home. He hugged her and told her everything would be fine. He told her to leave the horse and the trailer and they'd put it out to pasture and give it a good place to live. "As soon as the lady left the park, Joe said, 'Rick, grab your camera. Start rollin'.' He walks up to the horse trailer, pulls his revolver out, shoots the horse in the head dead and laughs. Just laughs. That was Joe Exotic. And of course, he fed that horse to the lions."

Kirkham said things were "a hell of a lot worse" than what's seen in the documentary. "[Watching Tiger King], you kinda had a little bit of a heart for the guy, but you really didn't realize or get to see how evil he really could be, not only to animals, but to people." Kirkham said that he felt himself cross over a moral line as he stayed at the zoo to film. After he left, he ended up needing six months of therapy, including a week-long stay in a psychiatric facility.

Rick Kirkham says he watched Joe Exotic kill tigers in cold blood.

Did Carole Baskin kill her husband?

The answer remains unknown, but due to the popularity of the Tiger King documentary, the police have revived their investigation into the disappearance of Carole Baskin's late husband, Don Lewis. They are asking for leads into Lewis' disappearance. "I believe it was a homicide," says Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister. "Now how and who's responsible for it? That's the unknown part right now. I wish I had more answers. I only hope, with the popularity of this Netflix series, that I'll get those answers." Chronister says that Don Lewis was estimated to be worth between $5 and $7 million. "Have you ever heard of anyone who fled or took off and left their wealth behind?" -People

Author and podcaster Robert Moor revealed details of another relationship that Carole had with a man who's not mentioned in the series. Similar to Don Lewis, that man also filed a restraining order against Carole, citing that he was fearful for his life and pointing out two conversations that led him to believe that Carole Baskin killed her former husband.

Following the success of the Netflix Tiger King documentary, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister asked for new leads around Don Lewis' disappearance.

What does Carole Baskin think of Tiger King?

Carole has condemned the documentary, calling the series salacious and sensational. She too said that the filmmakers misled her, presenting the idea as a big cat version of Blackfish. Directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin have admitted this was their original intention for the series but told the Los Angeles Times that the documentary evolved as the story continued to unfold. Carole's current husband, Howard Baskin, said that "the biggest con-artists of them all were [directors] Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin." The directors responded by saying that Carole was in no way coerced.

Carole Baskin called the Netflix Tiger King docuseries salacious and sensational. As a result of the series, Florida police have reopened the case into the death of her husband, Don Lewis.

Did Carole Baskin's husband's power of attorney really say, "upon my disappearance"?

Yes. The Netflix Tiger King true story reveals that Don Lewis' power of attorney suspiciously read, "This durable family power of attorney shall not be affected by any disability or disappearance."

Don Lewis' power of attorney includes suspicious wording.

Did Jeff Lowe have any experience with big cats prior to becoming Joe Exotic's partner?

It appears that Lowe did have some experience with big cats. Though it's not emphasized in the Tiger King documentary, prior to taking over Joe Exotic's G.W. Zoo, Jeff Lowe had 30 big cats of his own that he needed homes for.

Did Jeff Lowe steal the G.W. Zoo from Joe Exotic?

The documentary certainly implies that Jeff Lowe was a sort-of villain who came in and stole the zoo out from under Joe Exotic. However, according to Lowe, he didn't steal the zoo from Joe Exotic, stating that the documentary leaves out a lot of the details regarding the true story. "His lawsuits started burying him. The [Carole] Baskin lawsuit, I refused to pay for, because that was his mistake, his problem," says Lowe. "He got to the point where his lawyers just said, 'Joe, you gotta dissolve your company, get out from under this.' So he did. He shut his zoo down, completely shut it down, dissolved the corporation. Lauren and I formed a new corporation and opened it back up to the public. So, you know, everybody says we stole the zoo from Joe. That couldn't be any further from the truth. He was ready to walk. He had the doors closed when we took over." -Lights Out with David Spade

Is Jeff Lowe's "hot nanny" actually the nanny for his child?

No. It appears that Lowe later hired Instagram model Masha Diduk to pose as the "hot nanny" in interviews in order to play up what was seen on the show. In an Instagram DM, a woman believed to be the real Diduk responded to the question of whether she really was the nanny for Jeff and Lauren Lowe's baby. "I'm not the nanny. I live in Vegas lol," she stated. "I got paid to go there today to pretend I was the 'hot nanny' because so many of their fans were asking them about it after the show, that's all." Diduk appeared as the couple's nanny during Jeff and Lauren Lowe's interview with David Spade. Visiting Diduk's Instagram page reveals that she's almost certainly not spending her days as Jeff Lowe's child's nanny. -Busted Coverage

To play up what was seen in the show, Jeff Lowe hired Instagram model Masha Diduk to pretend to be the nanny, having her pose with his child during an interview with David Spade. Photo: Facebook

Was Jeff Lowe happy with the Tiger King documentary?

No. "I won't go there, too deep," said Lowe of his relationship with director Eric Goode, "but, you know, they had the show to make and they made their show. You know Hollywood, they create a lot of things that really don't exist, and it sensationalized things. I texted [Eric] the next day and said, 'You know what, all in all, it wasn't bad. I wish you hadn't done this or said this.' That's a discussion for another time. Let him enjoy his glory. ... You know, he made us look like sluts, but it's really helping us get laid," Lowe told David Spade sarcastically. "So, it worked out okay that way. ... Call me later and I'll tell you the [full] story." -Lights Out with David Spade

Did any of the people portrayed in the documentary have a clear understanding of what it was going to be about?

No. In researching the Tiger King fact vs. fiction, we learned that of all the stars of the documentary who have appeared in interviews, none have said that they were informed of what angle Tiger King was going to take. John Reinke, who is featured in the documentary and acted as the manager of the G.W. Zoo, says that they had been filming the series for at least five years.

"No," answered Reinke when asked if he knew what it was going to be about. "There's so much missin' from it. So, I think they were just saving a lot for more episodes." The directors, Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, have stated that they didn't fully understand what it was going to be about either, at least not for a long time. -Lights Out with David Spade

Did Joe Exotic retaliate against Jeff Lowe after the conclusion of the Tiger King docuseries?

Yes. Joe Exotic sued the federal government and Jeff Lowe for a total of $94 million. He alleges that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service targeted him and even blames them for the death of his mother.

Joe Exotic launched a $94 million lawsuit from prison against Jeff Lowe and the federal government.

Has Joe Exotic seen Tiger King?

Yes. According to his husband, Dillon Passage, Joe Exotic has seen Tiger King. He's a fan of the Netflix documentary and is ecstatic about being famous. Dillon says that what most people don't understand is that Joe has had broad access to the Internet in prison and is well aware of the sensation that the documentary has become. He has spent an enormous amount of time returning fan emails.

Did Joe Exotic get coronavirus in prison?

No. This was a rumor that was reported by some news outlets. However, Joe Exotic's husband, Dillon Passage, said that since COVID-19 was in Brady County Jail where Joe Exotic was incarcerated, they moved him to a medical facility and quarantined him for fourteen days to make sure he wasn't sick.

Is there a scripted Netflix Tiger King TV series in the works?

Yes. The only thing we know so far about the Netflix Tiger King scripted series is that Saturday Night Live alum Kate McKinnon is taking on the role of Carole Baskin.

Tiger King Cast Interviews & Related Videos

Sink your teeth into the Tiger King true story by watching these cast interviews in which they reveal the reality behind what was seen in the Netflix documentary series.