After Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness took over the internet and left everyone equal parts amused and horrified by Joe Exotic, Netflix decided to give fans with a bonus episode, titled The Tiger King and I.
The special, which dropped on Sunday, April 12, was hosted by Joel McHale from his bedroom and featured virtual interviews with several of the people who appeared in the hit docuseries: Erik Cowle, Jeff Lowe and Lauren Dropla, John Reinke, Kelci "Saff" Saffrey, Joshua Dial, John Finlay, and Rick Kirkham. Not only did this aftershow special give audiences a chance to find out what's become of these people following Joe Exotic's incarceration, but it also taught us quite a few new details about the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park and the absolute character who ran it for so many years.
Here's what we learned from The Tiger King and I.
1. Joe Exotic was secretly petrified of tigers. According to producer Rick Kirkham, Joe is actually "terrified of big cats" and staged the moment when he was shown tussling with two tigers in a cage. "In the shot that you see in there where he's in with the two tigers — the white one and the other one — the white one was blind, and the other one is on tranquilizers," he explained. "It's idiotic to think how he's become 'The Tiger King' when he's so terrified of big cats."
2. Duh, that's not Joe Exotic singing in the music videos. We kinda already knew this one, but his former husband and "I Saw a Tiger" music video star John Finlay was happy to confirm as much.
3. Everyone was there for the animals and not the owner. Joe Exotic's zoo might've had some long-timers on staff, some of whom still work at the G.W. Zoo, but they definitely weren't there for him. When asked who they were truly loyal to when coming into work every day, Erik Cowle and Saff were equally as vehement when saying that it was the tigers they persevered for and not Joe. Saff even said he trusted the tiger who bit his arm to bits more than Joe Exotic. Ouch.
4. There was much more violence against animals than we saw on-screen. Cowle, who is still the head zookeeper (or as he puts, it "major a--hole") under Jeff Lowe's ownership, said that he had one real regret about working for Joe: being the guy who lured several trusting tigers to the fence so that Joe could put them down and free up the cage space. Jeff Lowe also contended that the tigers who were euthanized were "healthy and beautiful" and that the killings were not justified. Meanwhile, Kirkham said he also witnessed Joe kill a horse which had just been dropped off by a woman pleading for him to let it live on the zoo grounds, and he said, "I don't take care of nobody's animals, and now they're tiger meat."
5. Not everyone wants Joe Exotic to spend the rest of his life behind bars. Erik Cowle has some very strong feelings about the possibility of Joe Exotic ever being released from prison — "No. Not no, but f-- no ... he's going to die in there. Good riddance," he said when asked if he should be freed. But Saff seems to think the sentence is a bit harsh. "I think justice was served, but I still don't want to see that man die in jail," Saff said.
6. They think Joe Exotic was right about Carole Baskin's husband. We'll have to wait for the new ID show to experience a deeper dive into what happened to Carole Baskin's missing husband, but as far as most of the stars of Tiger King are concerned, she did exactly what Joe Exotic accused her of and killed him off. Joshua Dial, Joe Exotic's former campaign manager, also maintained that her zoo is no different than the one he spent so much time at. "They're the same. They're all the same. All of these animal folks are the same. All they care about is that money," Dial said.
7. A lot of them have been permanently scarred by their time at the zoo. Dial said that he is still attempting to seek counseling after witnessing Travis Maldonaldo's accidental death in the office, and Kirkham explained that he has recurring nightmares about his time at the zoo, no matter how much distance he puts between himself and Oklahoma (he now lives in Norway). Also, John Finlay is still healing from continuing to get work to cover up the belly tattoo that bore his ex's name.
8. They've got some interesting ideas for who will play them in the eventual cinematic re-telling. At this point, there's little doubt that the story of this zoo will get the silver screen treatment if and when Hollywood is back in business, and Joe Exotic reportedly hopes that Brad Pitt might portray him on-screen. That might be a bit of an ego stretch, but some of the other stars have some interesting dream-casting pitches themselves: John Reinke thinks Matthew McConaughey would be a good match for his portrayal; Saff called Johnny Tsunami's Brandon Baker his ideal doppelganger; and Kirkham said he could see Billy Bob Thornton in the role. Whatever happens, absolutely no one should vet Vince Neil for the role of Erik Cowle anymore because, um, he is not a fan.
The Tiger King and I is now available to watch on Netflix.