Conservationist Karl Ammann Says Netflix’s Tiger King Was ‘A Missed Opportunity’

by : Emma Rosemurgey on : 11 Apr 2020 17:30

Anyone who has indulged in the addictive, binge-worthy viewing feast that is Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, will know that it’s far more to do with the personal lives of big cat owners than about the animals themselves.

What began with a row between ‘them animal rights people’ and eccentric gun-toting Joe Exotic, soon turned into an almost-murder mystery story so ridiculous it’s hard to believe it’s actually true.


A huge proportion of the series centres around Carole Baskin, who campaigns against the breeding of big cats – despite previously buying privately-bred tigers as pets in the past.

Conservationist Says Tiger King Was 'A Missed Opportunity'Netflix

The documentary raised questions around the disappearance of Carole’s second husband Don Lewis, which subsequently was criticised by Carole, who said producers told her the film would be like Blackfish, the 2013 documentary that exposed sinister goings-on at Seaworld, but for big cats.

Instead, the ethical questions around keeping these beautiful exotic animals in cages is lost entirely in the series’ ‘soap opera-esque drama’, according to Dr Carney Anne Nasser, director of the Animal Welfare Clinic at Michigan State University College of Law, as per New York Times.


Tiger King spans several years, detailing Exotic’s rise from the owner of a small roadside zoo, to one of the United States’ biggest tiger breeders, to convicted felon.

Critics of the series have expressed fears it could glamourise tiger ownership as well as assigning heroism to Joe Exotic, thus setting back the efforts of animal rights campaigners who have been fighting to end the abuse and ownership of big cats.

Carole Baskin Tiger KingNetflix

Tim Harrison, a retired police officer and exotic wildlife specialist in Dayton, Ohio, said:


We’re going to start seeing more selfies with cubs, more people wanting tiger cubs.

He added that he had turned down an opportunity to be interviewed for Tiger King because ‘it sounded like potentially it could be a freak show’.

If you need any evidence as to how far this show has travelled, when asked by a reporter if he would consider pardoning Exotic, President Donald Trump even said he would ‘look into it’.

Karl Ammann is a filmmaker who has worked tirelessly to expose the illegal wildlife trade, yet when he was interviewed for Tiger King, he said the show lacked any conservation message whatsoever.


‘To totally ignore such key aspects was a real missed opportunity,’ he said.

Regardless of its message (or lack of), Tiger King is on its way to becoming a cult series, which has people all over the globe talking.

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is available to stream on Netflix now.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Emma Rosemurgey

Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.

Topics: Animals, Netflix, peta, Tiger King


New York Times
  1. New York Times

    Why ‘Tiger King’ Is Not ‘Blackfish’ for Big Cats