8 Things About Joe Exotic Left Out Of Netflix’s ‘Tiger King’
Every so often a TV series comes along that captivates us all and right now watching Tiger King on Netflix is the closest I’ve ever felt to pure joy.
Tiger King revolves around eccentric zoo owner, Joe Exotic, who is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for a whole host of crimes, but most salaciously for plotting to kill Carole Baskin — his longtime nemesis who owns a big cat rescue centre.
The seven-part series dropped on 20 March and the show has quickly become a phenomenon. In turn, the series’ protagonist Joe has become somewhat of a hero — but did Tiger King tell the whole story about Joe? Here are a few details the docuseries left out.
8 things about Joe Exotic left out of Netflix’s Tiger King:
#1. Joe ain’t actually singing in his songs
This will come as a stab straight to the heart for some of Joe’s newfound fans, but the person singing in most of his hits is sadly not Joe. In a Vanity Fair investigation, a journalist found that the musicians responsible for Joe’s music are actually Vince Johnson and vocalist Danny Clinton.
In the same article, the director of Joe’s short-lived reality show Rick Kirkham, relayed a story about a time when he heard Joe’s actual singing voice. “One time Joe got a little bit drunk and high, and we actually coaxed him into singing part of one of the songs. He couldn’t even hold a tune.
“It was just so ludicrous. It was a big joke within the crew and staff that it wasn’t him [singing in the videos] – but he was damned insistent to anyone and everyone, including us and my studio crew, that that was him.”
— Essential Neighborhood Thot Pocket (@thotpocket8) March 25, 2020
#2. Joe shot five tigers for cage space
The documentary mainly focuses on the fact Joe is in prison for organising the murder of Carole, but he was also convicted of 17 other crimes — many which related to animal abuse. It was only briefly mentioned in the series that tiger skeletons were found on the grounds of the zoo, and according to Joe’s indictment, in 2017 he allegedly shot and killed five tigers in an effort to make cage space for his other big cats.
#3. There were some pretty incriminating phone convos played at Joe’s trial
For the ride or die Joe stans out there who reckon he was framed and didn’t actually plot to kill Carole, well, it might be worth reading the transcripts of phone conversations he had before being arrested. Because yikes. According to transcripts posted by Robert Moor, the host of Wondery podcast Joe Exotic: Tiger King, Joe made specific plans for Carole’s assassination.
17. To anyone who came away from #TigerKingNetflix thinking Joe was framed, please take a look at this secretly taped conversation between Joe and James, which was played at the trial. These are not the words of an innocent man! pic.twitter.com/78LpflJRIE
— 𝐑𝐨𝐛𝐞𝐫𝐭 𝐌𝐨𝐨𝐫 (@robertmoor_) March 26, 2020
#4. Joe bred ligers in captivity
Aside from breeding big cats, according to The Daily Beast Joe also bred multiple versions of big cat hybrids at his park, including ligers (offspring of tiger and lion), liligers (the offspring of a male lion and female liger) and tiligers (half tiger and half ligress). Joe even attempted to repeatedly breed hybrids so that he could eventually rebirth the saber-toothed tiger.
It’s widely known in the industry that breeding ligers is harmful to their health and often leads to heart failure and birth defects. One of his inbred cats weighed 1,000 pounds and was cross-eyed, while another lion cub called Angel was born crippled.
#5. Joe pretended to have cancer to get money
In another spicy post shared by Moor, he tweeted that Joe once claimed to be dying of prostate and bone marrow cancer so that he could raise funds on Facebook. In truth, he had an infected prostate and herpes.
9. For a long time, Joe told everyone he was dying from prostate & bone marrow cancer. He raised $$$ from his Facebook fans for his expenses.
He showed me this horrifying photo as proof. I later learned he just had an infected prostate, dehydration, & a bad outbreak of herpes. pic.twitter.com/uAuXqdsjfQ
— 𝐑𝐨𝐛𝐞𝐫𝐭 𝐌𝐨𝐨𝐫 (@robertmoor_) March 24, 2020
#6. Joe had other husbands
One of the funnier moments in the series is watching Joe marry his two husbands: John Finlay and Travis Maldonado. But it turns out, Joe had other husbands. According to a 2019 story in Intelligencer, in the late ’80s Joe met his first husband, 19-year-old Brian Rhyne, who tragically passed away in 2001 from HIV-related illness and died in Joe’s arms.
The next year, Joe married events manager J.C. Hartpence, who like John and Travis did not identify as gay. J.C has since been convicted of pedophilia and is currently serving a life sentence for first-degree murder.
5. Before Joe married John or Travis, he married another young (straight) guy named JC Hartpence. Hartpence later served time in prison for molesting a young girl, and is now serving life in prison for first degree murder. pic.twitter.com/gn1wtOft3v
— 𝐑𝐨𝐛𝐞𝐫𝐭 𝐌𝐨𝐨𝐫 (@robertmoor_) March 23, 2020
#7. Two lion cubs allegedly died while being transported on tour
On Reddit, a person claiming to have worked at Joe’s zoo for five years hosted an AMA and told a rather disturbing story recounting their time on the road touring malls with baby tigers and lions.
“We were several weeks into our tour and the baby cats that we had were no longer babies and with the decrease in revenue we had to cut back on the amount of meat that we could give them. This made them easily irritated and less likely to work well for pictures and playtimes. We had a litter of two lions just born at the park at that time and for an attempt to save the tour, Joe planned to have one of the park members drive the cats across the mid-west to meet us. Because the cats were so young they did not make it through the trip,” they wrote.
“That same week, Joe has courted John and another of his boyfriends to the sex shop where they spent over a thousand dollars in new toys and videos since they had the extra downtime with not being busy. We had to cut back on food for the animals that we had, yet they were able to spend in excess for toys.”
#8. Joe fed donated animals to his big cats
This might be the most disturbing story that was left out of Tiger King. While we saw Joe feeding his animals expired meat from a local Walmart, what the series didn’t touch on was that he also reportedly had a habit of feeding donated animals to his big cats.
According to The Daily Beast, in one instance a woman brought her horse to Joe asking for his zoo to care for the animal as she could no longer do so. While he promised he would accommodate the horse, as soon as she left he shot the horse in the head while it was still standing in its trailer and fed it to the lions. He did this in front of his TV show’s director Rick, who remembers Joe quipping “I’m not a charity!” after killing the animal. Joe’s crew also reportedly bid for horses at auctions, only to take them back to the zoo, execute them and feed them to the big cats.
Tiger King is currently streaming on Netflix.