Celebrities Rally Around the Protection of Big Cats After “Tiger King”

Tiger King

There’s no question that Netflix docu-series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness was a phenomenon that nobody expected.

If you weren’t drawn in by the crazy cast of misfits including Joe Maldonado Passage and Carole Baskin and their absolutely nutso feud, then you were simply just there for the (many) “what the actual…?” moments.

While the success of the series was something not even Netflix anticipated, the documentary had its naysayers, specifically surrounding the treatment of the big cats and other caged animals at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park.

Since the series aired, more and more stories have continued to surface surrounding Passage’s treatment of the animals — not to mention the fact that part of the reason he is serving a 22-year prison sentence is for killing five innocent tiger cubs.

Thankfully we didn’t see the animals being severely mistreated on the show, however, it was enough for animal rights activists to speak up and start a petition alongside the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Gabriela Cowperthwaite, who directed a 2013 documentary Blackfish — a documentary which exposed the treatment of animals at SeaWorld in the United States — penned a plea which has been back by celebrities such as Joaquin Phoenix, Edie Falco, Rooney Mara and Iggy Pop.

“Documentaries can be powerful forces for change, sometimes through a call to action and other times simply by telling a story that entertains, creating a window into a world viewers weren’t previously aware of,” the director said in a statement.

“But at some point, there is a pivot and the passion of their millions of viewers lands somewhere useful. Tiger King and its audience can do that now. The world of big cat captivity requires a call to action, and I’m encouraged that through this partnership with the Animal Legal Defense Fund and support for our petition by the entertainment industry, we may see enough pressure lead to the passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act.”

Other celebrities who have signed onto the petition include Kate Mara, Kim Basinger, Ruby Rose, Nikki Reed, Ian Somerhalder, Teresa Palmer, Glenn Close, Anjelica Huston, Justin Theroux, Christopher Walken, Mena Suvari, Steve Aoki, Alan Cumming, Jane Lynch, Olivia Wilde, Sarah Silverman, Whitney Cummings, and Jenny Slate among others.

As of 2020, US states of Nevada, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Alabama have no regulations when it comes to ownership of big cats.

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