Victory is theirs.
The Netflix series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, starring controversial Oklahoma big-cat owner Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, picked up steam as audiences were mostly stuck at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The story of big-cat wars has captivated viewers with its twists and turns, but also left many wondering what has happened to Exotic’s animals now that he’s been convicted of 17 charges of animal abuse and two counts of murder for hire and sentenced to 22 years in jail.
“It’s not about the Netflix film, it’s not about anything other than we are trying to give them the best life possible,” Becca Miceli, the sanctuary’s chief science and animal welfare officer, told the Denver Channel.
The organization first started rescuing big cats from Exotic’s park in 2017. They now also have three black bears, along with the 39 tigers.
“We try and give them large open spaces, plenty of place to run, decide what they do throughout the day,” Miceli said. “If they want to lay in the sun, play in the water, scratch on a log.”
When they made their first set of rescues, Exotic’s famous roadside zoo was in bad shape, according to Wild Animal Sanctuary executive director Pat Craig.
“It was super overcrowded and running out of food,” Craig told 9news, adding that he required armed security guards with him during the rescue.
The tigers were anywhere from two to four years old when they arrived in Colorado, and many of them had health problems, Miceli explained.
“They ranged in different conditions. I think the biggest thing is that they were all exploited to some degree,” she told CBS4. “Whether it be for entertainment watching, a person playing with them, for people to take selfies with.”
When asked if she and her colleagues watched the Netflix series, she said they were “pretty apprehensive.”
“It will bring some light to this problem,” Miceli told CBS4. “I wish they had focused a little bit more on the animals rather than just on the characters.”
The sanctuary currently has 85 tigers on its property and a total of 480 animals, its website says. In the past 39 years, the Wild Animal Sanctuary has rescued more than 1,000 animals.