Top 10 Most Shocking Moments From Netflix's Tiger King

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Top 10 Most Shocking Moments From Netflix's Tiger King

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
Tiger King's plot twists just keep coming. For this list, we're looking at the craziest moments from the Netflix true crime documentary series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”. Our countdown includes Carole's husband's disappearance, what happens to Travis, Joe's verdict, and more!
Transcript
The plot twists just keep on coming. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Shocking Tiger King Moments.

For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the most unbelievable and jaw-dropping moments and revelations from the true crime documentary series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”. Please note, this video will contain major spoilers. So if you haven’t watched this explosive series yet, go binge-watch it and come back!

#10: Jeff Steals the Zoo

Just as everything appears to be falling apart for G.W. Zoo owner Joe Exotic, a would-be savior descends from on high, seemingly poised to save the day. Jeff Lowe presents as a successful business with a love for big cats. And considering his larger-than-life fashion sense, unflappable confidence, take-no-prisoners attitude and willingness to throw money around… he appeals to Joe in a major way. For fear of losing the park to his ongoing legal battle with Carole Baskin, Joe transfers ownership of the zoo to Jeff Lowe, but it doesn’t take long for the latter to show his true colors. In the ultimate power move, Lowe, who many have described as the ultimate con man, turns on Joe and boots him from the zoo he built.

#9: Everything About Doc Antle

Though Joe Exotic is the starring attraction, “Tiger King” introduces a number of major players in the world of big cats. In the first episode, we meet Doc Antle, who Joe describes as having had a major influence on him. With his success in the movie industry and more polished zoo, Antle initially comes off as eccentric but generally more reputable. Then, in episode 2, “Cult of Personality”, the curtain is pulled back. Doc Antle is revealed to essentially have a harem of wives and runs his zoo in a way not dissimilar to that of cult leaders -complete with emotional and psychological manipulation. Later, others go so far as to accuse him of secretly euthanizing tigers after they grow beyond the profitable cub phase.

#8: Murder Plot

From the very beginning of the series, we’re told that this narrative is going to involve a murder plot. But with so much craziness going on in the world of Joe Exotic, it’s easy to forget that that’s where the story is headed. Of course, Joe’s incessant violent threats towards Carole Baskin do help lay the groundwork for the murder-for-hire. Across episodes 6 and 7, we learn the details of how Joe allegedly hired handyman Allen Glover to kill Carole Baskin. According to Glover, Jeff Lowe and James Garretson (who shockingly became an FBI informant), there were detailed discussions as to how and where to do the crime. The price? According to Glover they agreed on $5000 but Joe only gave him $3000.

#7: It's Not Over (Ongoing FBI Investigation)

Considering Joe’s style of dress, the haircuts of the people he surrounds himself with and the quality of life portrayed in this series, it’s easy to forget that this all happened fairly recently. And as we’re reminded by the end titles in the last episode, this story is far from finished. Joe might be in jail, but there are still a lot of legal issues to be unraveled. One of the biggest end credits reveals is that Doc Antle’s zoo was raided in 2019. Though not mentioned in the series, Tim Stark’s Wildlife In Need, located in Indiana, is the subject of a pending lawsuit. And with more captive tigers in the United States than globally in the wild, the big cat debate is very much ongoing.

#6: Joe Runs for Office

Just when you think that Joe Exotic’s life - and, by extension, this series - can’t get any crazier... he gets into politics. By this point in time, he’s already struggling to keep his zoo running under the crushing weight of his legal battles with Carole Baskin. Nonetheless, he announces his intention to run for President. Then, saying that he can’t wait that long, he instead decides to run for governor, and actually follows through. His quest for office is a complete mess, largely because of Joe himself; his campaign manager is easily among the show’s most sympathetic figures. Despite the odds, Joe actually winds up third in the polls, but the campaign ultimately only serves to hasten his financial ruin.

#5: Staff Member's Arm

In the first episode of the series, we meet Kelci "Saff" Saffery, who is without a doubt among Joe’s most loyal employees. Even after everything that has happened, she’s generally kind when talking about Joe. And considering she lost her arm working for him… that’s saying a lot. From the very beginning, it’s clear that Joe’s zoo isn’t overly concerned with safety protocols; few of the employees seem to have experience or formal training. And in episode 2, we learn that, sure enough, Kelci lost her arm to a tiger attack. The fact that there’s actually footage of the immediate aftermath is shocking enough, but even harder to wrap your mind around is the fact that Kelci was back at work within days.

#4: Joe's Guilty Verdict

Considering everything that Joe does (and is alleged to have done) throughout the series, it’s perhaps not so hard to believe that he wound up being sentenced to 22 years in prison. Given his age, this is essentially a life sentence. Then again, Joe’s lifestyle makes it seem like he lived in his own personal wild west. He’s always blowing stuff up, making death threats and operating in gray areas when it comes to his animals. As such, despite it being an inevitability, it’s simultaneously hard to fathom that he actually went down. His phone calls from prison are especially hard to listen to, as he genuinely seems to think he can get out and start over.

#3: The Studio & Gator Pit Fire

Every time you think that this docuseries can’t possibly get any crazier, some new curveball is thrown our way. About halfway through episode 4, tragedy strikes the G.W. Zoo when a massive fire occurs on the property, consuming both Joe’s studio and the alligator pit. It becomes immediately clear that this was an act of arson, and Joe is quick to point fingers at Carole Baskin and/or “animal rights people”. The alligators were killed in the fire, Joe is no longer able to film his web series and producer Rick Kirkham loses all the footage he’d put together for his reality show. The biggest shocker though? A video and various testimonials that heavily imply that Joe himself may have been behind the fire.

#2: Carole's Husband's Disappearance

In the first two episodes of the series, a dichotomy is set up between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin. They sit on opposite ends of the big cat debate, and while they’re both undeniably eccentric, Carole comes across as the more altruistic and good-intentioned of the two. Then episode 3 starts and we get an entirely different side of Carol. The whole episode is dedicated to the story of Carole and the disappearance of her previous husband, millionaire Don Lewis. The latter had tried to file a restraining order against her just months prior to his suspicious disappearance. The inclusion of the word “disappearance” in his will is also considered highly suspect, prompting many to suspect Carol of foul play.

#1: Travis' Death

Episode 5 of this series, “Make America Exotic Again” is without a doubt the most shocking of the bunch. Simultaneously to Joe’s political campaign, we learn about the nature of his relationship with his two husbands, John and Travis. According to multiple testimonies, his behavior was predatory and possessive. He controlled them with gifts, money and drugs. John eventually leaves Joe for a woman, and Travis accidentally shoots himself. We don’t see it happen, but we do see campaign manager Joshua Dial react to Travis’s death off-camera. The footage is hard to process and extremely upsetting. Adding to the insanity of this tragedy, Joe finds himself a new young partner and is married again within 2 months of Travis’ death.
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