Everything I Learned From the Train Wreck That Was “The Tiger King and I”

Tiger King

WARNING: This article contains spoilers from The Tiger King and I and just like entering one of Joe Exotic’s tiger cages, enter at your own risk.

If you’ve been pulled into the crazy world of drug lords, polygamy, cults, money, magic and tigers in Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madnessthen you’re no doubt prepared for the trainwreck gaggle of interviews in Netflix’ latest episode offering, The Tiger King and I.

Hosted by Community star Joel McHale — no doubt because the streaming giant just released the entire TV series on its service — the 40-minute reunion special was a sign of the global pandemic times — individual Zoom calls, Apple AirPods and key players from the series running their mouths off.

Personally, I was looking forward to hearing what this band of misfits had to say about the docu-series in which has made them bonafide superstars, and lucky for us, they were happy to oblige with morsels of insane tidbits about each other and their lives.

It is important to note, however, that I was extremely disappointed that Joe Exotic aka Joe Maldonado Passage was not dialled in from his prison cell nor that Carole Baskin decided to show her face on the show, especially considering the world are convinced she fed her husband to the tigers.

So, what did I learn from The Tiger King and I?

Here’s a list of all of the wild discoveries that were made during the after-show episode.

Tiger King
The Tiger King and I cast. Netflix.

Erik Cowie, Head Zookeeper at G.W. Zoo

☆ He hasn’t seen the show

☆ His life has changed dramatically — the zoo has closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, people sometimes drive by and take photographs of him.

☆ He has regrets — Cowie said that he regrets putting down the big cats and would often be used to lull them into a false sense of security because of his soft voice.

“They trusted me up until the end,” he said.

☆ His loyalties lie with the tigers and not with Joe or Jeff Lowe —  “Joe was an asshole, absurdly crass,” Cowie said, however, Lowe wouldn’t do the “random yellings at” like Exotic would.

Cowie thinks Exotic got what he deserved — when asked if Exotic should be a free man, Cowie said: “No, the fuck no! Good riddance”.

Tiger King
Erik Cowie. Tiger King, Netflix











Jeff and Lauren Lowe, Current owners of G.W. Zoo

☆ The most searched google keywords are “Jeff Lowe Hot Nanny”

Lowe was not happy with how he was portrayed — Lowe claimed that they tried to “sensationalise” him and make him the “villain”.

☆ He revealed why he wears leather jackets — because of the tiger claws.

Thinks Exotic is his own worst enemy — “He should have testified against himself on the stand”.

Believes Carole Baskin killed her husband and fed him to the tigers — “There’s no question in my mind that she did it.”

Tiger King
Lauren and Jeff Lowe, Tiger King. Netflix.

John Reinke, Former manager at G.W. Zoo

People recognise him in the streets — “They don’t care about the COVID. They just want to shake your hand and take a picture.”

Also hates Exotic — “He told me I couldn’t run the zoo. He always made people smaller than him,” he said, before adding: “He was always belittling someone.” He’s also not in contact with him.

☆ He does not get along with Lowe — He quit the day Exotic did after witnessing Lowe and Dillon Passage (Exotic’s husband) fighting for 15 minutes.

☆ He drove with a skeleton in his passenger seat because he doesn’t “hang out with people”: “They just stab you in the back.”

He’s the most normal of the bunch — Well, as normal as you can be.

Tiger King
John Reinke, Tiger King. Netflix.

Kelci “Saff” Saffery, Former animal keeper at G.W. Zoo

Now identifies as male — his portrayal as a “she” on the show did not bother him “as much as it bothered everybody else”.

Has no anonymity — He’s recognised everywhere, even being stopped three times in Walmart late at night.

He has a complicated relationship with Exotic — “I think justice was served, but I still don’t want to see that man die in prison,” however, trusts the tiger that attacked him over Exotic.

☆ His attack was used as a safety video at the zoo — Saffery was back at the zoo just days after having his hand amputated and Exotic was more concerned with turning it into a video.

Tiger King
Saff Saffery, Tiger King. Netflix.

Joshua Dial, Exotic’s ex-campaign manager

Believe’s the documentary was “fair and balanced” — “It’s fair, it’s balanced, and I just think it’s a wonderful production.”

He knew Joe was “batshit crazy” — Dial saw the career move as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

Travis Maldonado didn’t know his gun was loaded when he shot himself in the head  — This is by far the most tragic part of the entire series. Dial was in the office when Maldonado came in holding a gun, believing it wouldn’t fire, he put it up to his head.

“I was looking at him in the eyes when he did it and I could see the surprise and the fear in his eyes,” Dial recalled. “Basically translated, he’s like: ‘Oh crap, what did I just do. Maybe five seconds of his eyes I could read it and then he was gone.”

☆ Dial did not receive any counselling after the shooting — “The thing is, I had to go to that office every day and sit in that same chair and look at that bullet hole in the wall every day for a year and a half after Travis killed himself.”

Exotic’s type was “young and dumb” — Dial was never hit on by his former boss.

Dial stands by his “Fuck the feds!” comments 

Joshua Dial
Joshua Dial, Tiger King. Netflix

John Finlay, Exotic’s Ex-Husband

He was not happy with his portrayal — “I was portrayed as a drugged-out hillbilly, and that was not me then. At that time, I was four to five years clean.”

A lot of people “hooked up” at the zoo — including Finlay and a zoo worker who is the mother of his four-year-old daughter.

Confirmed Exotic didn’t sing any of his songsshockingly.

☆ Always went shirtless to show off his array of tattoos — “I got tattoos. Why not show off? I mean, it was a little cold, but it was fun.”

He’s still on OK terms with Exotic.

Tiger King
John Finlay, Tiger King. Netflix.

Rick Kirkham, Former producer of Joe Exotic TV

☆ Kirkham is now living in Norway — Kirkham now lives in Norway with his Norwegian girlfriend and the show is hugely popular over there.

“I can’t even take a walk down at the fjord without somebody walking their dog, coming by, pointing, going, ‘That’s him! That’s him!’” he said.

He feels guilty for not turning Exotic in for animal abuse — Kirkham witnessed a lot of animal abuse at the hands of Exotic and said that he “sold out” his own “journalistic integrity by not going to the authorities”.

☆ He also hates Exotic — “I regret ever meeting Joe Exotic.”

☆ Exotic was terrified of tigers — According to Kirkham, the scene where Exotic is in with two tigers, the “white one was blind” and the other one was darted with tranquilisers.

☆ He still has nightmares over the whole thing

Tiger King
Rick Kirkham, Tiger King. Netflix.

Read more stories from TheLatch— and follow us on Facebook.