Some of the scariest subcultures in the US involve gun ownership, country music and ridiculously elaborate mullets.
Needless to say, enthusiasts of these elements frequently converge. But when you throw in big cat ownership, the results can be incendiary – and lethal, as Netflix’s Tiger King attests.
There are many odd things about America, but the fact the country now houses more tigers in private ownership than are found in the wild in all of Asia is a staggering statistic.
This fascinating Netflix documentary series centres around one of these big cat owners, the flamboyant “Joe Exotic”, who set up a private zoo with hundreds of animals on an Oklahoma horse farm in the 1990s.
Joe’s increasing love of publicity and advanced paranoia had him preparing for a ‘small Waco’ when he attracted the attention of law enforcement, spurred on by the aggressive campaign of self-proclaimed big cat conservationist Carole Baskin.
The fact that Carole wears nothing but leopard and tiger prints and confesses to camera that the cats in her sanctuary are substituting for the friends she never had as a child gives you an idea of the lunacy surrounding the world of big cat ownership, particularly after you throw in “Doc” Antle, a fellow tiger collector, cowboy and Steven Seagal wannabe.
The fact that this weird feline saga devolves into a murder for hire plot should surprise no one who watches the first episode.
Like Netflix’s The Jinx: the Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, this compelling documentary series allows the viewer to peek inside one of the truly bizarre corridors of the American Dream.