By OKKI KLIJN
Producers of the hyper-popular Netflix series Tiger King have chosen to glorify the abusers of the show, rather than focus on the victims.
The recently released docuseries has provoked controversial discussions globally about the issue of big cat captivity in the United States. But the abuse these animals are facing has been overshadowed by other scandalous issues in the show that have society asking questions such as: did Joe Exotic hire a hitman for the murder of conservationist Carole Baskin? Did Baskin really feed her husband to the tigers?
The Humane Society of America reports that Tiger King barely scratches the surface of the suffering that these animals face and instead has chosen to alternatively focus on things such as Joe’s polygamous marriage and the number of wives fellow big cat collector Doc Antle has.
Tiger King has intrigued millions of people since the show was released on March 20, but few seem to be asking: why, and how, are people getting away with the abuse of these animals? Entertainment is driving the breeding and trading of big cats in America; cubs are passed around for hours on end for petting, feeding and posing until they reach their “expiration date”, which is usually at five months old.
The World Wild Fund for Nature says it is currently easier to buy a tiger than to adopt a dog from a local animal shelter in America. Due to the lack of regulation on ownership, there are currently between 5000 to 10000 big cats in captivity in the United States, and only around 4000 in the wild.
The disturbingly addictive series Tiger King showcases the extensive networks of the breeding and selling of cubs. The demand for exotic animals is extensive as people are purchasing them primarily for monetary gain, with the majority of big cats in captivity are living in roadside zoos. A three-hour cub handling averages about $US700. According to the National Geographic, female big cats in captivity are being forced to birth two or three litters per year, compared to one litter every two years in the wild, and the cubs are often pulled from their mother minutes after their birth.
The Humane Society of America says there are an astonishing number of unaccredited zoos and private residences housing these exotic animals that are flying under the radar and getting away with the mistreatment of these endangered species.
Tiger King blatantly skims over the mishandling of big cats in the United States and has chosen instead to glorify the abusers in the series over the abused.