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19th Feb 2020

The story behind Netflix’s latest true crime documentary is absolutely off-the-wall bonkers

Paul Moore

“The wildest story you’ll never believe.” And that’s coming from the producer of FYRE. This sounds great.

While every true crime story is ghastly and unbelievable, there are always some tales that just linger in the memory, mainly due to the excess, criminality and sheer OTT nature of the crimes documented.

We’re thinking of documentaries like Wild Wild Country, Abducted in Plain Sight and even FYRE. After all, Andy King’s, erm, commitment to being a team player at the doomed festival did make him one of the most famous faces of 2019.

Well, the executive producer of FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened is working on a new documentary called Tiger King and the story behind it is absolutely wild.

Tiger King is about Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic.

If you’re unfamiliar with Joe Exotic, he was a tiger breeder who ran a roadside zoo in Oklahoma and was quite well known for his mullet and flamboyant personality.

Joe Exotic also featured in a Louis Theroux documentary, 2011’s America’s Most Dangerous Pets, and he also unsuccessfully ran for Oklahoma governor and President of the United States.

He didn’t get into the White House, but he did get into the local papers in 2019 after he was convicted over a plot to kill his long-time critic and rival Carole Baskin, founder of the Big Cat Rescue Wildlife Sanctuary.

Baskin’s website profiled people who were guilty of mass-breeding tigers, separating cubs from their mothers, and then using them as photo props.

Joe Exotic was on her list, so he tried to hire two different hitmen – an employee and an undercover FBI agent – to kill Baskin.

Earlier this year, a jury convicted him on two counts of murder-for-hire and 17 wildlife charges. For his crimes, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

He was convicted of killing five tigers. He also sold and trafficked tigers and other endangered species. Aside from this, he falsified government documents to hide his activities in violation of federal laws.

Netflix’s official synopsis for the documentary reads: “A rivalry between big cat eccentrics takes a dark turn when Joe Exotic, a controversial animal park boss, is caught in a murder-for-hire plot in this limited docuseries where the only thing more dangerous than a big cat is its owner.”

As per the description below, Joe Exotic is described as “a gun-toting polygamist who presides over an Oklahoma animal park – and the murder-for-hire plot that led to his arrest”.

Tiger King is set for release on 20 March on Netflix and it’s bound to be a fascinating watch.