The extraordinary tale of convicted zookeeper Joe Exotic feels like something from a twisted TV drama, but it’s a true story. The subject of addictive Netflix series Tiger King lived a colourful life, keeping lions and tigers at his GW Exotic Animal Park before the authorities closed it down.
Exotic was found guilty not only of animal abuse but also of trying to hire hitmen to take out his nemesis, animal rights campaigner Carole Baskin. Their feud, which began when Baskin won a lawsuit against him in 2013, is even more shocking when you realise that the pair lived nowhere near each other – in fact there are more than 12,000 miles between them.
So where did this all take place? Here’s your guide to the locations in Tiger King…
Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park
Joe Exotic’s ill-fated zoo was based in the state of Oklahoma, just above Texas in the American deep South. The 16-acre animal park opened in 1999 and was home to wild cats including lions, tigers, pumas and ligers. It caught the attention of animal charity PETA and sent someone in to work undercover as an employee in 2006, while Carole Baskin was also campaigning for the zoo to be closed down. It took until 2018 for Joe Exotic to be arrested and the zoo is now under new ownership. Tim Stark, who is already facing action from PETA, and Jeff Lowe, who faces charges in Las Vegas for owning exotic animals without a licence, are planning to move the zoo an hour down the road to nearby Thackerville, which is also in the state of Oklahoma.
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Big Cat Rescue
More than 1,200 miles away from Joe Exotic’s animal park is Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue, where she cares for abandoned and rescued cats. The sanctuary is based in Tampa, Florida, on the East Coast of America, which would be more than an 18 hour drive away from Joe Exotic. The sanctuary is generally open to the public (although currently closed during the coronavirus outbreak) and tours cost $49 for adults. Children over the age of 10 are welcome. The sanctuary is approximately 90 minutes away from the famous Walt Disney World Resort by car. You can get tickets for Big Cat Rescue here.
Tiger King lands on Netflix on Friday 20th March