While there’s not much defense for Joe Exotic and how he’s treated his big cats prior to being sentenced to a 22-year prison term, it’s easy to be concerned about what’s going to happen to said cats and other animals if the G.W. park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma isn’t able to be switched over to Jeff Lowe’s Oklahoma Zoo eventually. It’s kind of intriguing to see that so much of the documentary that featured on Netflix shifts focus onto the humans that are having issues with each other and just kind of glosses over the animals, the only ones that can’t really fight back. Carole Baskin or Doc Antle might go to bat for the big cats, but unfortunately that would be an equally dire fate for them since big cats in confinement is a sad thing to see, and as the documentary, which many insist didn’t do much more than sensationalize the issue between the main characters, did show is that out of all of the issues arising from the matter, the idea that the cats are more important than anything was continually secondary. As Kayleigh Donaldson of Screenrant reminds us the cats are the reason why Joe Exotic became so famous in the first place. If not for the zoo that he ran like his own playground he’d be another eccentric gay man that people might care about for two or three seconds before moving on. But the idea that he was so into cats, that he allowed people to handle and play with tiger cubs (which is abhorrent) is a big reason why he became known as the Tiger King, and why this documentary became less about the cats and more about him and his enemies.
As of right now it sounds as though all the animals in the zoo will be headed down to Jeff Lowe’s new project once it’s up and running, though whether or not it actually opens come next spring as he’s planning is in question at the moment. Gabriella Geisinger of DigitalSpy had more to say about Jeff. Lowe is unfortunately seen as a hustler that doesn’t always have the kind of scratch he’s alluding to, but has a heap of priors and is apparently in legal trouble in a few different way that could eventually get him sent back to the slammer as well. It’d be horrible to see the cats go to Baskin or Antle if only because Antle appears to be the kind of guy that might euthanize a good number of the cats, while there’s something undeniably shady about Baskin. Without citing the documentary there’s something very shady about a lot of the people that feel the need to own exotic animals as pets. These are wild animals, they’re meant to stay in the wild, not be trained and kept in cages their entire lives. The sad part is that if the cats were to be release it would need to be within a special preserve where they could still be watched over since once a wild animal is caged for too long, or if they’re bred in captivity, the survival rate goes in the wild goes down tremendously. They don’t know how to hunt, they don’t know how to care for themselves, and as a result those cats bred and raised in captivity would have little experience to fall back on when it came to surviving and competing for resources in the wild. Some folks might want to say ‘oh their survival instincts would kick in’. There’s a chance that this might happen, but the percentage is so small that it might as well be impossible.
At the moment it would sound as though Jeff Lowe is making the claim that the park is doing just fine, that things are still going well and that there’s no need for concern, but there are a few people that would gladly contradict him on that score. The cats are still in Lowe’s care, but how well they’re being treated kind of depends on the money he’s able to put into the park and how many staff are being kept on at the time. With all that’s happened since Joe’s incarceration it’s hard to think that Lowe, who actually went so far as to sneak tiger cubs into hotel parties at one time, actually has the best interests of the cats in hand. What will end up happening to them is still up in the air since the new zoo has a long way to go and there’s no guarantee that all of the cats will be able to make the trip. What has been revealed by the documentary and a bit of research on the different characters is that a lot of the information being given is entirely biased one way or the other, and it’s important for people to make up their own minds about this issue. Every single person on the show felt absolutely shady, and the only individuals that should have mattered were the ones that were continually ignored if they weren’t being trotted out to show to the general public.
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