6 shocking revelations from the Tiger King and I with Joel McHale

Tiger King - Credit: Netflix
Tiger King - Credit: Netflix /
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The Tiger King and I after-show reunited cast members of the Netflix docuseries Tiger King to give us an update on a potential season 2 and what was too wild to make the series.

It turns out seven hours of Tiger King just wasn’t enough to satiate the Tiger King fans that have grown into the millions since the series was released. The Tiger King and I after-show hosted by Joel McHale was released on Sunday for fans who couldn’t get enough of the series and the subjects featured in the seven-part docuseries that has been watched by more than 30 million accounts.

Guests included Jeff Lowe and his wife Lauren, Rick Kirkham, Kelci “Saff” Saffery, John Finlay, Erik Cowie, John Reinke and Joshua Dial.

Here’s what we learned.

Carole Baskin is not a fan of Tiger King

This really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who watched five minutes of Tiger King. Baskin was portrayed negatively throughout the series, which she told EW was salacious and sensational, and new conspiracy theories are popping up about how she is responsible for feeding her ex-husband to her big cats. No wonder she didn’t participate in Tiger King and I.

Joe Exotic killed healthy tigers to make cage space

The end of the series revealed Joe Exotic had a graveyard on the grounds of the zoo after the fire took place. It was revealed that Joe was euthanizing animals on-site and burying them on the zoo grounds. That was confirmed by multiple people in the Tiger King and I.

Former head zookeeper Erik Kowie said, “A lot of times when we put cats down, they’d use me because of my appearance and my voice. I can get a cat up the side of a cage where we can dart it, and tranquilize it so they can be put down. Those cats trusted me up until the end and somehow, sometimes, I swear they were like, ‘Dude, you let me down.’ I can see it in their face and in their eyes.”

When McHale asked if the cats were put down for health reasons, Cowie said that was not the case.

“You would think, but no. Even before all this happened, Jeff [Lowe] asked me once point-blank where my loyalties lie? And without hesitation, I told him my loyalties—I don’t care about you and I don’t care about Joe — I’m here for the cats.”

Lowe didn’t leave anything up for interpretation when he said, “Joe killed the tigers. He admitted to killing the tigers from jail.” To which his wife Lauren interrupted to say, “And they were healthy tigers, by the way. They were 2-3 years old.”

Lowe adds, “They were not sick. They were beautiful, healthy tigers that he called over to the fence and he shot them in the head because he needed the cage space. So Joe goes out and makes the cage space by killing five beautiful, healthy tigers.”

Saff, who famously lost part of his arm after he was attacked by one of the big cats, said Joe always had a reason to justify his animal cruelty.

“At that point, it’s out of my control,” Saff said. “Joe always had a way of explaining his actions: they were old, they were injured, they were suffering, is what we got.”

Travis Maldonado’s death was an accident

The death of Travis Maldonado due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound was one of the most-talked-about scenes from the series. There were some who thought the gunshot wasn’t an accident as depicted on the show and was actually Maldonado intentionally committing suicide. Josh Dial who was witness to the act thinks it was an accident.

“No, I was looking at him in the eyes when he did it and I could see the surprise and the fear in his eyes, Dial said. I could see that basically it translated to, ‘Oh crap, what did I just do?’ And maybe five seconds of his eyes I could read it and then he was gone.”

No shirt, no problem

John Finlay’s appearance was another big takeaway from the series. The tattooed former husband of Joe Exotic was always shown without a shirt on and about half his teeth missing. The missing teeth have since been replaced with some nice new veneers to bring back Finlay’s smile. One of the final scenes showed Finlay having a Joe Exotic tattoo covered up. But he didn’t care about being covered up during the filming where he intentionally filmed his scenes topless.

“I got tattoos, why not show off?” he told McHale.

The Tiger King was afraid of tigers

Joe Exotic’s former producer Robert Kirkman thinks the Tiger King was actually really scared of big cats despite his chosen profession of running a big cat zoo.

“The one thing that wasn’t pointed out in the docuseries that is really important to know too: Joe was terrified of big cats,” he told McHale. “He was scared to death of lions and tigers. In the shots that you see on there, when he’s in with two tigers, the white one and the other one, the white one is blind and the other one is on tranquilizers. It’s idiotic to think how he became famous as ‘The Tiger King’ when he’s so terrified of big cats.”

Don’t hold your breath for Tiger King season 2

Tiger King producers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin were not involved with the production or participation of Tiger King and I. And it sounds like their initial interest in a potential Tiger King season 2 is on hold as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the world.

“I say most of our thoughts right now are toward people’s safety and health and their importance of people staying home,” Chaiklin told The Hollywood Reporter on April 1. “These are things that are still unfolding and we’re thinking about it, but it’s kind of hard to say.”

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