Netflix has capitalized on the huge success of their docuseries Tiger King by releasing an “aftershow” special called The Tiger King and I, hosted by Community star Joel McHale. The hourlong episode, recorded over video calls in this age of social distancing, features interviews with Jeff and Lauren Lowe, John Reinke, Joshua Dial, John Finlay, Saff, Erik Cowie, and Rick Kirkham.
Arguably Tiger King’s biggest “stars” – Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic – are notably absent (likely because the former is now dealing with whispers that she killed her husband thanks to her portrayal in the docuseries, while the latter is serving a life sentence), which makes for an underwhelming special. Still, The Tiger King and I does offer a few interesting revelations, including the fact that everyone has strong opinions about who should play them in the inevitable film adaptation, and Joe Exotic doesn’t appear to have many allies among his former staff members.
Here are five other things we learned in The Tiger King and I:
Joe Exotic Allegedly Wasn’t a Fan of Tigers and Lions
Producer Rick Kirkham, who shot hours of footage of Joe Exotic because he hoped to one day create a reality TV show about him, tells McHale, “The one thing that wasn’t pointed out in the docuseries that’s really important to know to: Joe was terrified of big cats. He was scared to death of lions and tigers. And in the shots that you see in there where he’s in [the cage] with the two tigers, the white one is blind and the other one is on tranquilizers. It’s idiotic to think how he’s become famous as “the Tiger King” when he’s so terrified of big cats.”
Eric Cowie Has Never Seen Tiger King
The blonde zookeeper admitted his still hasn’t watched the Netflix docuseries that made him famous because he’s too busy working at the zoo. “I haven’t seen it,” he tells McHale. “And I should because that way I can at least have some semblance of ammunition for some of the things that come out of people’s mouths or the memes or memies or whatever they’re called.”
Joe Exotic Saw a Shaman After Travis’ Death
Joshua Dial, Joe Exotic’s campaign manager who witnessed the tragic accidental death of Exotic’s husband Travis, says mental counselling was not discussed after the shooting. “What Joe did was he spoke to a shaman. I felt like it worsened his condition. I’m all for holistic approaches, but sometimes you need real, legitimate counseling and medication and he wasn’t getting it.” Dial also says he also regrets not getting his own therapy after Travis shot himself in the head in front of him. “I had to go in 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 … What my plan is, is hopefully I’m going to be able to raise some money, enough to get me some counseling, get on my meds and once I’m back stable and ready to go, I want to jump back into campaigning for sure.”
John Finlay Is Not Happy with How He Was Portrayed
Joe’s ex-husband binge-watched Tiger King with his fiancée in seven hours on the night it was released. “I had to know what was on it and so did she, and I had to be kind of prepared to know what was going to go on.” Finlay is not impressed by the documentary. “I was portrayed as a drugged-out hillbilly, and that was not me then. At that time, I was 4-5 years clean.”
Joe Exotic Allegedly Fed a Horse to the Tigers
Kirkham levels heavy accusations of animal abuse against Joe Exotic in the special. In one particularly shocking exchange, Kirkham tells McHale, “This old woman had a horse in a horse trailer. She pulled in one day and she was really upset…She said ‘Joe, can you please take care of my horse? He needs to go out to pasture and he’s old. Can you give him a good life?’ And Joe said ‘Oh we have plenty of land. Of course, we will.’… No sooner did that lady get off the park than Joe said ‘Rick, follow me.’ He walked right up to the horse trailer, pulled the revolver out of his holster, shot the horse dead and said ‘I don’t take care of nobody’s animals. Now they're tiger meat.’ And he had the horse cut up and fed to the tigers. It was unbelievably cruel.”
The Tiger King and I is now available on Netflix.