‘Tiger King’ Producers Respond To Carole Baskin’s Criticism

Netflix

Netflix’s latest true crime docuseries Tiger King examined and exposed some of the biggest exotic wild animal collectors in the United States, and many of them were not happy with how the documentary depicted them.

Carole Baskin, owner of Big Cat Rescue, slammed the docuseries calling it “salacious and sensational” in a blog post she published a week ago. She also had issues with the final version of Tiger King, a documentary she claimed was pitched to her as the “big cat version of Blackfish,” a documentary that exposed abuse at SeaWorld.

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“Carole talked about her personal life, her childhood, abuse from her first and second husband, the disappearance of her ex, Don Lewis. She knew that this was not just about … it’s not a Blackfish because of the things she spoke about,” co-producer Eric Goode told the L.A. Times. “She certainly wasn’t coerced. The other thing I would say about all these people is that there was a lack of intellectual curiosity to really go and understand or even see these animals in the wild. Certainly, Carole really had no interest in seeing an animal in the wild… The lack of education, frankly, was really interesting — how they had built their own little utopias and really were only interested in that world and the rules they had created.”

His co-producer Rebecca Chaiklin added, “I would just say we were completely forthright with the characters. With any project that goes on for five years, things evolve and change, and we followed it as any good storyteller does. We could have never known when we started this project that it was going to land where it did.”

She told Entertainment Weekly that she and Goode remained in contact with the documentary’s main subject, Joe Exotic, who is currently in prison serving a 22-year prison sentence for hiring a hitman to eliminate Baskin, his nemesis. News had reached Exotic, whose legal name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, of his newfound infamy and he’s ecstatic about it.

Even rapper Cardi B, who was live-tweeting when she watched the documentary, wants to see Exotic free.

“Joe has called me quite a few times over the last few days and weeks,” Goode told the L.A. Times. “One, he is absolutely ecstatic about the series and the idea of being famous. He’s absolutely thrilled. I think he is trying to be an advocate for — no surprise — criminal justice reform. He is in a cage and of course, he’s gonna say that he now recognizes what he did to these animals. With Joe, we have empathy for him, but at the same time, he’s someone who really knows what to say at the right moment. I take it with a big grain of salt when he says he is now apologetic for keeping animals.

Chaiklin added, “You can hardly talk to him without him mentioning the amount of press he’s getting. He says people are asking to see his Prince Albert and girls are sending him sexy bikini pictures even though he’s gay. He’s over the moon. Having kept in pretty close touch with him while he’s been in a horrible county prison, this has raised his spirits. Joe definitely did some horrible things to his animals. He was very abusive to them and he shot five tigers, no question about it. But what has happened to him has also been hard.”

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