Tiger King became the biggest show of 2021, with many of us using the early days of lockdown to binge-watch the entire series on Netflix.
Its main character Joe Exotic was the eccentrically-dressed zookeeper who kept tigers as pets and had a bitter feud with fellow animal keeper Carole Baskin.
Viewers watched in bewilderment as he went from the quirky anti-hero to a villain who was jailed for animal offences and a both plot of hiring a hitman to kill Baskin.
Here we take a look at the cast of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness and what they got up to next.
Netflix US/AFP via Getty Images)
Tiger King followed Exotic’s running of a controversial private zoo in Oklahoma and his feud with Baskin.
Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, is currently serving a 17-year sentence for animal abuse and a murder for hire plot in FMC Fort Worth.
He was sentenced in 2019, so he hasn’t even seen the Netflix series that made him a household name.
Off the back of the show’s popularity, his legal team sought a pardon from US President Donald Trump.
They were so confident that he would be pardoned that they even had a limo waiting outside the prison where he is being held in Texas.
But Trump left him off his list of pardons that included 70 people, as well as the sentences of 73 others commuted, on his last day as President.
In May this year, Exotic revealed that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer while in prison.
He tweeted: “ohn Phillips has received my medical records from FMC Fort Worth and my PSA count came back very high for prostate cancer.
“The prison has approved testing to verify what stage it is in.
“My body is tired, I have lost a tremendous amount of weight, the mouth sores are out of control, I throw up more than I eat.”
Exotic asked President Joe Biden to pardon him, saying: “I don’t want anyone’s pity, what I need is when John Phillips gets the evidence he is working on, I need the world to help him get President Biden, VP Harris and the Attorney General to listen to the evidence.
“And see that it’s not just city cops out of control with corruption, but his very own Department of Justice and make this right and sign that pardon that Trump left behind so I can go home and get proper medical care and proper food.”
Baskin was Exotic’s arch rival and she campaigned to have his zoo shut down.
He accused Baskin, who runs Big Cat Rescue, of murdering her missing husband and feeding him to tigers, something she strenuously denies.
In June last year she was given Exotic’s zoo after a judge ruled in favour of Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue Corporation in a lawsuit against the Greater Wynnewood Development Group, LLC.
The zoo was in the control of Jeff Lowe at the time.
Sunday Mirror/Andy Stenning)
In 2011, Baskin won a trademark infringement lawsuit against Exotic, who was ordered to pay her $1million.
In a second suit, filed in 2016, she claimed he had subsequently transferred the Oklahoma property to his mother in a bid to evade creditors.
In June 2020 a federal judge in Oklahoma City ordered that the property be turned over to Baskin.
Since the show aired, Baskin has remained in the spotlight and appeared on reality TV shows, including Dancing With The Stars.
She still runs Big Cat Rescue with her husband and works with animal rights organisation PETA to change laws about wild animal enclosures.
Baskin hit out at the way she was portrayed in the Netflix series, branding it “salacious and sensational” and claiming bosses “didn’t care about the truth.”
She wrote in a blog on her website: “When the directors of the Netflix documentary Tiger King came to us five years ago they said they wanted to make the big cat version of Blackfish (the documentary that exposed abuse at SeaWorld) that would expose the misery caused by the rampant breeding of big cat cubs for cub petting exploitation and the awful life the cats lead in roadside zoos and back yards if they survive.
“There are not words for how disappointing it is to see that the docuseries not only does not do any of that but has had the sole goal of being as salacious and sensational as possible to draw viewers.”
In the series Erik had claimed that Exotic had abused the animals and ordered him to put down tigers for no good reason.
He said he was pleased that Exotic was in prison and hoped he’d never be released.
As shown in the series, he testified Exotic’s trial where he alleged older tigers were shot and killed at the zoo.
He later said that he lived with the guilt of killing the animals and felt like he had “let them down”.
Erik, who was head keeper at the zoo for five years, was found dead in New York City in September.
TMZ reported that there was “nothing suspicious about the death at this point and no drugs were found on the scene.”
It is understood that a toxicology test will still be performed on the reality star by a medical examiner.
Dillon was one of Exotic’s toyboy husbands in the series.
They married when he was just 22-years-old and he featured heavily in the show.
After the series aired and Joe was sent to prison, he stuck by him and gave several interviews about him off the back of his newfound fame.
But in March this year, Dillon revealed that he is divorcing Joe.
He tweeted: “To answer the main question the public wants to know, yes, Joe and I are seeking a divorce.”
Dillon added: “In November of 2017 I met Joe who was there for me during a difficult time in my life.
“After just 9 short months he was arrested and, for the last two and a half years, we have been apart. I’ve always stood by his side and will continue to always love and support him.
“This wasn’t an easy decision to make but Joe and I both understand that this situation isn’t fair to either of us. It’s something that neither of us were expecting but we are going to take it day by day.
“We are on good terms still and I hope it can stay that way. I will continue to have Joe in my life and do my best to support him while he undergoes further legal battles to better his situation.”
Doc was another of the zoo owners who were depicted in the series, which showed his Myrtle Beach Safari park.
Last year Antle indicted in Virginia in connection with animal cruelty and wildlife trafficking.
Prosecutors said a investigation revealed that he had worked with a Virginia zoo to traffic lion cubs to his location.
Last month PETA called on the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture authorities to probe the park after a video was released of Chris Brown’s seven-year-old daughter diving off on an elephant’s head.
PETA officials said that Antle’s actions in the clip breached multiple rules, including the Animal Welfare Act.
The animal rights organised said that the incident was dangerous, as federal rules state that animals like elephants need to be kept at a distance from people, with barriers in place.
USDA officials said that they were ‘looking into’ the allegations.
Antle told TMZ: “We are in no ways in violation of the animal welfare act. We have continuously perfect inspections.
“We are well aware of the USDA protocols to conduct this type of filming; as we have been involved in film work of this nature for decades, including more than 500 films, documentaries, television productions and advertisements.”
He added: “USDA is our partner in animal welfare and we share a passion and commitment to providing the highest possible care for our animal ambassadors at the preserve.”
Lowe took over the zoo from Exotic in the series, before it was later taken by Baskin.
He lost his license to hold exotic animals in August 2020.
It came two months after Lowe was given 120 days to vacate the property, after a court ruling awarded Exotic’s rival Baskin the zoo.
In January this year US District Judge John F. Heil III ordered Lowe and his wife to stop breeding animals and they had to give over nearly 70 big cats.
Last month it was reported that the Lowes had agreed to hand over their collection of 61 animals, which include porcupines, camels, lemurs, bobcats, ferrets, raccoons, and foxes, to the authorities.
The Justice Department filed a civil complaint back in November last year that they were violating the Endangered Species Act and Animal Welfare Act and accused them of ‘inhumane treatment’.
He didn’t comment at the time, but had previously accused the government of making “false accusations” about him.
John was another of Exotic’s husbands and “married” him and Travis Maldonado, another zoo employee who has since died, in a three-way ceremony.
The series said he didn’t actually identify as gay and was having an affair with a woman during the relationship with Exotic.
Since the show aired, John has married a woman named Stormey Sanders, who runs his fanpage.
He also got a new set of teeth and has found happiness after Tiger King.
John said on Instagram last year: “I’m in love with my amazing fiancée, have beautiful doggos, horses, and chickens, and amazingly supporting friends and family who love me for me.
“It has taken me a long time for me to realise that I deserve love but more importantly that I LOVE ME too. I love the man I have become.”