New ‘Tiger King’ Episode Hints at What We’ve Known: Joe Killed Animals

Published by Zachary Toliver.

A new episode of the viral phenomenon Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness hit Netflix on Easter Sunday. This effort to squeeze a bit more buzz out of an animal abuser’s infamous legacy didn’t teach us much that we didn’t already know.

But there was at least some discussion of the horrific animal abuse committed by Joseph “Joe Exotic” Maldonado-Passage that the docuseries had largely failed to reveal.

Hosted by Joel McHale from his bedroom (thanks to COVID-19), the new episode includes virtual interviews with several people who appeared in the docuseries. As PETA has stated before, the series largely glossed over serious issues of animal welfare, including the horrors of cub trafficking and the problems with commercial cub-petting attractions.

While the series indicates that some tigers are killed, the roadside zoo’s current head zookeeper, Erik Cowie, talked about tricking the cats into approaching the edge of their cage so that they could be tranquilized and then killed—even though there was no medical reason to end their lives.

He lured them to their death so that Joe could free up cage space. Cowie testified in Joe’s trial that Joe used a shotgun to kill five tigers in order to make room for other big cats.

The current owner of the infamous Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, Jeff Lowe, stated that the tigers who were killed were “healthy and beautiful” and that the killings were not justified. Of course, neither is keeping animals in a ramshackle roadside zoo.

It speaks volumes that Joe mercilessly killed tigers. Tigers are largely solitary, complex individuals who value their own lives. Just like other animals, they have unique personalities and emotions. They should spend their lives in nature or at an accredited sanctuary, rather than having to deal with Cowie, Lowe, or any other animal-exploiting exhibitor.

In this episode, Rick Kirkham said that he also saw Joe kill a horse who had been abandoned on the property by an unnamed woman. Apparently, she had begged Joe to let the horse live on the grounds of the roadside zoo. But Joe reportedly stated that he didn’t “take care of nobody’s animals, and now they’re tiger meat.”

Even if this show were 37 episodes long, it couldn’t possibly cover all the cruel things that Joe Exotic has done to animals.

PETA and our supporters campaigned for years to help animals abused by Joe Exotic. Before his ultimate conviction, PETA helped rescue 39 tigers, three bears, two baboons, and two chimpanzees from the hellhole that he ran.

All these animals are now thriving at reputable sanctuaries. They may not be able to return to their native homes, but at least they can live in peace and dignity.

All animals want to be free from torment, just like you and me.

PETA makes it easy to take action for big cats abused in the entertainment industry. Click on the link below to help with our lifesaving work.

Take rapid action for tigers

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind