Another day, another story about the viral sensation, Tiger King.
If you haven’t yet hopped on board, you still have time – after all, our lockdown is due to run until April 16 (for now, at least), so get in there before you read any spoilers and the fun is ruined.
That reminds me – there may be some spoilers of sorts below, so proceed with caution.
For those who have finished the series, here are five facts that you may have missed, as well as Joe Exotic talking about which actor should play him in the big-screen adaptation that’s surely going to be made.
Also, I don’t know who made this, but you’re a genius:
Alright, let’s talk about Carole Baskin, or as Joe Exotic calls her, “that bitch”.
According to John Goodrich, one of the world’s foremost tiger biologists and a chief scientist at Panthera, a famous wild cat conservation organisation, both Carole and Joe are terrible people.
Regarding Carole, this from NP:
While Baskin undoubtedly isn’t as dangerous as Joe Exotic or Doc Antle, her sanctuary isn’t all it’s cracked out to be…
“One of the problems with ‘legitimate’ sanctuaries is that some of them might be making profits off of their sanctuaries, and it gives the public the impression that they’re making some great contribution to cat conservation and protecting cats by giving money to these sanctuaries,” says Dr. Goodrich.
“It is not a contribution to saving big cats. These sanctuaries in the U.S. run the gamut from people who are living hand to mouth and putting everything they make back into taking care of the cats, to ones where people are making a lot of money under the guise of a big cat rescue sanctuary.”
In 2018, tax records show that Baskin’s operation, Big Cat Rescue, made a staggering $4,4 million. The same tax filing shows that Big Cat Rescue spent $663 401 (around 15% of their total revenue) on animal care and education programs.
Then there’s also the question of whether or not Carole murdered – sorry, no spoilers.
According to IndieWire, Goodrich also slammed Tiger King as a whole, calling it “one of the most appalling shows I’ve ever seen”:
Goodrich criticized “Tiger King” for being more about “the bizarre characters involved in the big-cat industry in the U.S.” than about the big cats themselves. The characters “Tiger King” does focus on are deeply problematic, according to Goodrich, to the conversation of big cats.
The scientist said, “If it were more focused on the tigers, ‘Tiger King’ wouldn’t have left out that Joe Exotic wasn’t just convicted of murder-for-hire but nine violations of the Endangered Species Act. Federal agents found bones belonging to five tigers in the back of Joe Exotic’s zoo — tigers that he shot to death and buried there.”
…Goodrich said the only good place for tigers in captivity are at “accredited zoos,” not facilities run by the likes of Baskin. “What [viewers] saw, they learned nothing about tiger conservation,” Goodrich added about “Tiger King.”
I guess that’s true, but hopefully, it does raise public awareness around petting zoos and ‘big cat encounter’ businesses that operate around the world.
In case you need a little extra fuel to ensure you don’t support these for-profit businesses that exploit animals, here’s Huff Post:
“It requires that babies are taken from their mothers and forced into human lifestyles,” Imogene Cancellare, a conservation biologist whose Twitter thread on “Tiger King” went viral earlier this week, said in an email.
“Cubs need a LOT of sleep, just like domestic puppies and kittens, and they need access to milk around the clock. Cubs in pay-to-pet operations are chronically exhausted, overstimulated from being passed around to humans, and are often malnourished. Diarrhea is common, as these babies are stressed and missing the care of their mothers.”
As for the captive breeding, and the argument that it increases the numbers of an endangered species:
“The only breeding that contributes to conservation efforts are those under expert-managed Species Survival Plans, which are species-specific programs that safeguard captive populations in case free-ranging populations disappear,” she said. “These programs trace genetic health, pedigree, and ensure no hybridization, inbreeding, or crossing of subspecies.”
But carelessly breeding tigers ― combining subspecies that are totally distinct in the wild, crossing totally different species to create creatures like “ligers” or intentionally inbreeding animals to produce white tigers ― is useless for conservation and only adds to the surplus of captive tigers already in the United States.
In other words, these businesses can dress up their for-profit motives however they like, but you shouldn’t support them.
Still, you should watch Tiger King, enjoy the madness and plot twists that are thrown your way, and then ensure you do your bit for actual conservation efforts going forward.
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