With the country officially settled in for extended quarantine binge watching, Netflix users officially found their new pop culture icon in Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, the Netflix documentary series that has enamoured much of the country after it raked in more than 10 million streams in its first week of release. Nothing has captured the internet's attention quite like the true crime docuseries. With an over-the-top cast of characters and bizarre plot twists that pile one on top of the other, people are clamoring for more information on the people involved in the complicated web of big cat ownership in the United States.
While you wait for the upcoming limited series starring and executive produced by Saturday Night Live actress Kate McKinnon, check out the latest on some of the stars that made Tiger King such an instant success. From the imprisoned Joe Exotic, who is convinced of his innocence, to Carole Baskin, whose innocence some aren't buying, to Jeff Lowe, who "stole the zoo," here's what the Tiger King main players are doing now.
Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic or the Tiger King, quickly became a internet sensation after his bleach blond mullet, country songs and outrageous behavior shocked Netflix viewers everywhere. In the final episode of Tiger King, Joe Exotic was sentenced to 22 years in prison in January, having been convicted of multiple charges, including an alleged assassination plot against fellow big cat community member Carole Baskin.
While Joe remains in prison, the former Oklahoma zookeeper has filed a $95 million federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and government agents, accusing them of violating his civil rights. In the legal filing, obtained by PEOPLE, Joe has claimed $73,840,000 is for loss of personal property; 18 years of research; and care of 200 generic tigers and cross-breeds for 365 days a year, at a rate of $60/day per animal. An additional $15 million is for false arrest, false imprisonment, selective enforcement and the death of his mother, Shirley, he claims.
Carole Baskin, Joe Exotic's nemesis and owner of Big Cat Rescue, has meanwhile spoken out fervently against the documentary, which featured accusations that she killed former husband Don Lewis, who disappeared in 1997. In a blog titled "Refuting Netflix Tiger King" on her website, Baskin claimed the documentarians misled her about their intentions while filming.
"When the directors of the Netflix documentary Tiger King came to us five years ago they said they wanted to make the big cat version of Blackfish (the documentary that exposed abuse at SeaWorld) that would expose the misery caused by the rampant breeding of big cat cubs for cub petting exploitation and the awful life the cats lead in roadside zoos and back yards if they survive," the blog reads. "There are not words for how disappointing it is to see that the series not only does not do any of that, but has had the sole goal of being as salacious and sensational as possible to draw viewers," Baskin continues. "As part of that, it has a segment devoted to suggesting, with lies and innuendos from people who are not credible, that I had a role in the disappearance of my husband Don in 1997."
Carole's current husband, Howard Baskin, has also been a vocal supporter of his wife amid the speculation she killed her previous husband, defending her in a message posted to Facebook after the series premiere. "In 15 years of living together, we have never had an argument," he said in the video. "We have never even had a harsh word where the other had to come back later and say, 'I'm sorry I said that.'"
John Finlay's many visible tattoos, missing teeth and relationship with ex-husband Joe Exotic made him a quintessential part of the Tiger King documentary for many viewers. In later episodes of the documentary, Finlay revealed that he is straight and was involved with a woman who also worked for Joe.
Since the documentary wrapped, Finlay and wife Stormey Sanders have started a Facebook page titled "The Truth about John Finlay," where he has been sharing updates on his life, photos and videos. Currently, he says, he is working as a welder and has had his teeth repaired, shading the documentarians for not showing more current photos and video. "Yes I have my teeth fixed," Finlay said in one post. "The producers of the Netflix series had video and pictures of this but chose not to show it."
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Bhagavan "Doc" Antle was also unhappy about the way he was portrayed in the Netflix series. The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species founder wrote in a since-deleted statement on his Instagram account, "We are very disappointed that our facility was mentioned in the new Netflix series. We can only assume it is because Doc Antle has been such a high profile wildlife personality for so many decades that his association would create more buzz."
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Joe Exotic's former boss and antagonist, Jeff Lowe, is still running the Greater Wynnewood Zoo in Oklahoma with fiancée Lauren Dropla and plans to open a new zoo in Oklahoma later this year, according to his social media. The two plan on marrying in July, they announced in The State on Feb. 11, and are currently splitting their time in Oklahoma with the zoo and in Las Vegas.
What He Thought
Lowe appears to be one of the few Tiger King subjects who didn't object to his portrayal in the documentary, giving an in-depth response in a since-deleted Facebook message. "Lauren and I just finished watching the Tiger King. Overall, we think they did a good job," Lowe wrote. "A little sensationalism here and there, but for the most part it was a decent Readers Digest version, telling the story of a sick, twisted animal abuser. Joe Exotic. When i agreed to be involved in this docuseries I was slightly concerned that by Son's Of Anarchy lifestyle might be too much for the average person to handle. I make no apologies for living my life to the fullest extent. But those concerns completely vanished when I saw the segment on Doc Antle, Joe's Messiah and role model. Even I was like,[what the f—]?
"Regardless, Lauren and I remain committed to the care of hundreds of animals who rely on us to keep them safe and healthy," he continued. "It has exhausted the small fortune I once held, I even sold my Ferrari to help build our animals larger enclosures. But I wouldn't trade our lives with any Hollywood star. We have some incredibly generous supporters. We're doing great and when this Coronavirus crap has passed, we will ramp things back up."
He concluded, "I will always believe that our biggest contribution to the animal kingdom was helping the feds take down monsters like Joe Exotic and Tim Stark. No zoo we ever build will have the positive impact of taking out the nation's largest tiger cub traffickers. Thank you all for your continued support. Lauren and I are forging on, everyday to complete a new facility that can provide out animals with more space, far away from 'The Curse of Joe Exotic.'"