It’s almost two years since the Netflix documentary series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness became the pandemic’s first TV hit, with the wild world of its stars offering us a distraction from our Covid-19 doomscrolling. Now Peacock are releasing a drama version of the story starring Nat Wolff, the subject of our ‘Who the F*** Are You?’ profile this week, as Joe Exotic’s late husband Travis Maldonado. So what happened to Joe, Carole Baskin and the rest of the original cast?
Self-styled Tiger King Joe Exotic, real-name Joe Maldonado-Passage, went from running his infamous GW Zoo in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, to living behind bars himself. He was sentenced to 22 years in jail in January 2020, convicted of animal cruelty charges and a murder-to-hire plot to kill his nemesis, Carole Baskin, who had campaigned against the conditions at his zoo. Following a cancer diagnosis last year, he was transferred to the Federal Medical Center, in Butner, North Carolina. A rumored pardon from former President Donald Trump never materialized, and in January an appeals court reduced his sentence by just one year.
Baskin was upset with her portrayal in the original ‘Tiger King’ documentary. She refused to appear in the sequel that was screened on Netflix last year, and failed in a legal bid to derail it. She did end up winning control of her rival Exotic’s zoo in June 2020, and has continued to run Big Cat Rescue, and lobby Congress to ban the private trade and ownership of exotic cats. Baskin has enjoyed her new pop culture sensation status too. She appeared on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ in 2020, being booted off the show after a series of cat-inspired dances, including dressing up as a lion to perform a samba to Elton John’s ‘Circle of Life’ in her third and final dance. Baskin remains married to Howard, and came out as bisexual in October 2020.
Lowe took over the GW Zoo from his ‘friend’ Joe Exotic, and in the second installment of the documentary series we watch as he tried to take advantage of the newfound notoriety and develop Tiger King Park. But when a court granted Baskin ownership of the zoo, the Department of Agriculture suspended Lowe’s license over the unsanitary conditions and evidence of neglect. Just a week ago, Lowe and his wife Lauren avoided jail time after making a plea deal in a drunk driving case in Oklahoma City,
Finlay was one third of the three-way wedding captured in the original ‘Tiger King’ documentary, alongside Exotic and Travis Maldonado. And while Maldonado died after shooting himself in the head in a shocking scene which became part of the Netflix show, Finlay’s story ends with a smile. He married wife Stormey, 33, last year after meeting her on a dating app in what he called “the happiest day of my life,” and the pair now have a daughter. He also claims to be free of the crystal meth addiction that caused him to lose his teeth, and has a new set of gnashers as pictured in the recent image above.
Antle didn’t come out of the original Netflix documentary well, with even Joe Exotic accusing him of animal cruelty. He then got his own installment of the documentary saga last year, with the release of ‘Tiger King: The Doc Antle Story’ on the streaming giant. In October 2020, he was indicted and charged with wildlife trafficking and cruelty to animals, charges he denies. His legal battle is ongoing, with a trial set for this summer.
More than 350 animals have been rescued from the various stars of ‘Tiger King’, including Exotic and Lowe, and have found homes in 17 different animals sanctuaries. And while viewers, and animal rights campaigners including PETA, were disgusted by the treatment of the animals that was captured on film by the filmmakers, it has raised awareness of their mistreatment and led to numerous roadside zoo closures, animals being rescued, and arrests of their abusers.