A year ago Saturday, Netflix launched the series "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness," a fascinating character study filled with big cats, drugs, sex cults and some very questionable motives.
Released at the beginning of an unprecedented quarantine lockdown, the seven-part documentary series quickly became one of the most talked-about shows in the world. Within the first month, the pop culture phenomenon was sampled by 64 million households worldwide.
As a result of the show's success, there are many spinoff projects in the works. Investigation Discovery is developing a series titled "Investigating the Strange World of Joe Exotic," which will serve as a direct sequel to "Tiger King" and investigate the disappearance of Carole Baskin's first husband.
Kate McKinnon will star as Baskin in an upcoming limited series currently titled "Joe Exotic," which received a multi-platform series order at NBCUniversal Television.
Back in May, Variety exclusively reported that Nicolas Cage is set to star in an eight-episode scripted series centered on Joe Exotic. Amazon Studios will produce the project along with CBS Television Studios and Imagine Television.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Louis Theroux will be producing a new documentary for the BBC titled "The Cult Of Joe Exotic." The 90-minute film will reflect on unseen footage from Theroux's decade-old documentary "America's Most Dangerous Pets" and feature interviews with members of the team trying to get Exotic out of prison.
Additionally, Carole and Howard Baskin are teaming with ITV America's Thinkfactory Media for a new unscripted series that will expose those who engage in animal cruelty.
With all of these "Tiger King" sequels and spinoffs on the horizon, here's an update on what Exotic, Baskin, Doc Antle and the rest of the cast have been up to in the last 12 months.
How is Joe Exotic doing in prison?
The Tiger King himself, Joe Maldonado-Passage (né Schreibvogel), is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence after being convicted of 17 violations of animal abuse. In addition to wildlife trafficking, Exotic shot and killed five aging tigers in order to make boarding space available for a new shipment of animals. He was also found guilty on two counts of murder-for-hire.
Exotic is currently being housed at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, due to a blood-immune disorder. Exotic's attorney, Francisco Hernandez, told Metro.co.uk earlier this week that the former zookeeper is being denied medical treatment, which has caused cold sores to break out all over his mouth. Hernandez said he is worried about Exotic, asserting that he has lost a lot of weight and that his health is spiraling.
"I'm worried about him," Hernandez said. "With a blood immune disorder, if he gets COVID right now, it could very well be the death of him. COVID is still going through the prison system and he's not out of the woods, it could kill him."
Will Joe Exotic be pardoned?
In May, a group of attorneys and volunteers known as "Team Tiger" drove a double-decker bus to Washington, D.C., to submit a 257-page document to the Department of Justice that disputed elements of Exotic's conviction. The team fully expected President Donald Trump to pardon Exotic, with private investigator Eric Love saying he was "100% sure" it would happen. While Trump granted clemency to more than 140 people, including celebrities Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, Exotic did not make that list. The 57-year-old expressed his frustrations on Twitter, where he said he "was too innocent and too gay to deserve a pardon from Trump."
Exotic said he has more confidence in president Joe Biden regarding criminal justice and prison reform, which makes him believe that the new administration is more likely to come through with a pardon. In the meantime, Exotic is planning to publish a memoir titled "Tiger King: The Official Tell-All Memoir" on Nov. 9 through Simon & Schuster's gallery imprint. After filing a $94 million federal lawsuit over his prosecution, Exotic has hired a new legal team and is pushing for a new trial.
Will Carole Baskin appear in a possible "Tiger King" Season 2?
Baskin was vocal about her frustration with the ongoing narrative that she was suspected of killing her husband, Don Lewis, who disappeared in August 1997. In a statement released shortly after "Tiger King" aired, she criticized the "salacious and sensational" series.
"The series presents this without any regard for the truth or in most cases even giving me an opportunity before publication to rebut the absurd claims," Baskin said. "They did not care about truth. The unsavory lies are better for getting viewers."
In a recent interview with RadioTimes, Baskin revealed that she felt "misled" and "betrayed" by her portrayal in "Tiger King," which is why she told the showrunners to "lose her number."
While Baskin has shut down the idea of returning for a possible second season, she has continued to advocate for big cats and capitalize on her newfound star status.
Last September, she performed on three episodes of "Dancing With the Stars," which significantly boosted the network series' ratings from last season. Additionally, Baskin has become one of Cameo's most prolific earners, where she is currently charging $299 for a customized video message.
What's the status of the search for Carole Baskin's dead husband?
Baskin has repeatedly denied the claims that she fed her first husband, Don Lewis, to hungry tigers.
Since "Tiger King" has aired, new witnesses have come forward regarding the cold murder case. In an interview on CBS' limited series "48 Hours Suspicion," a woman named Trish Farr-Payne said she believes her ex-husband Kenny Farr may have played a role in Lewis' disappearance. Farr, who was Baskin's former handyman at the time, allegedly brought home a large freezer with a padlock around the same time Lewis went missing.
Whether this is a major clue or just a juicy detail to promote the new season of "Tiger King," Farr-Payne claims that her ex-husband restricted her from speaking about Lewis after his disappearance.
What's the status of the Big Cat Act?
Baskin and her husband, Howard, have been rallying to get the Big Cat Public Safety Act HR263 passed by the Senate. The federal legislation would end owning big cats as pets and stop cub petting, which Baskin said are two major sources of big cat abuse.
On Dec. 3, 2019, the House of Representatives passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act 272-114, which limits the number of people who are able to legally transport, sell, buy, breed or possess big cats. While the Senate failed to pass the bill before the 116th legislative session ended, it was reintroduced in the House in January by representatives Mike Quigley and Brian Fitzpatrick.
"Animals like tigers, lions, leopards, and pumas simply do not belong in private ownership," Quigley said. "Not only does it place the public, including law enforcement and first responders, in grave danger — it also often results in these animals living in miserable conditions."
Tanya Smith, president and co-founder of the Arkansas-based Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Senate's ability to prioritize the bill. Nevertheless, many advocates of the bill are hopeful that it will be passed later this year.
Kevin Bhagavan "Doc" Antle, owner of Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina and founder of The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.), was one of the private breeders featured in "Tiger King." Like Baskin, he expressed how he was displeased with the way he was portrayed in the documentary series and regrets his participation.
In August 2019, a search warrant was executed at Wilson's park, where animal control agencies seized 119 exotic animals, including tigers, bears, lions, camels and water buffalo. He has since been charged with two felony counts related to wildlife trafficking and 13 additional misdemeanors.
According to a news release from In Defense of Animals, an animal protection organization based in California, Myrtle Beach Safari was ranked number six on its annual list of "10 Worst Zoos for Elephants in North America."
What happened to the zoo, and is Jeff Lowe still opening his new zoo?
Jeff and Lauren Lowe took possession of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park from Exotic in 2016 after legal and financial struggles. While they were planning to open a new zoo in Oklahoma in hopes of starting fresh, they both lost their licenses to exhibit wild animals.
Last November, the Department of Justice sued them for alleged violations of "illegally taking, possessing and transporting protected animals" including a grizzly bear, ring-tailed lemurs, tigers and lions, and "placing the health of animals in serious danger." The DOJ went on to file a motion that they comply with the Animal Welfare Act and give up all cubs under one year of age, as well as their mothers, to temporary placement at reputable facilities. According to the court, this is the only way to prevent further suffering and death.