Tiger King, Netflix’s biggest-ever true-crime success, is back for a second season. The salacious story of big cat owners, murder-for-hire and a motley crew of characters had to be seen to be believed, becoming one of the undisputed pop culture giants of the lockdown era. The story of Joe Exotic, a mulleted zoo owner who was jailed for trying to have his rival, big cat conservationist Carole Baskin, murdered, proved too tawdry to look away from.
Now, for better or worse, Tiger King has returned with a five-part season that picks up where things left off. Joe Exotic is still in jail; his friends and enemies are cashing in on their newfound fame; the media furor grew and so did the conspiracies.
This season is less compulsive than its predecessor (how could it be?). While it's still bothered by ethical questions and sneering perspectives related to matters like misogyny and classism, there are still moments of surprise and a few shocking revelations unveiled. We’ve gathered together the five biggest reveals of the Tiger King season 2.
Joe Exotic stripped for the mayor
The first episode offers an insight into Exotic's past, from his childhood in an abusive home to his engagement to a woman named Kimberly Craft. His estranged brother claims that Exotic used to shoot animals and nurse them back to health. Most weirdly, it is revealed that Exotic, while working as a police officer in Texas, was paid to strip for the local mayor as part of a fundraising drive to pay for a new fire truck. There's no footage or photographs of this, but Tiger King does helpfully(?) provide a re-enactment to enhance this crucial detail.
Exotic created a website to find a new boyfriend — and he got one
Exotic's colorful love life made for some of the more curious moments of Tiger King, particularly his occasionally questionable power dynamics over younger and troubled men. The second season details some of his past and present heartbreak, including the loss of his first husband. His most recent ex-husband, Dillon Passage, didn't even tell him he was ending their marriage, leaving Exotic to find out through the media. Never one to wait around (even behind bars) Exotic created “The Bachelor King,” a dating website where men could apply to be his new partner. Shockingly, it worked. He's now seeing a man named Seth.
The ‘Free Joe Exotic’ supporters campaigned for a Presidential pardon
The cries of #FreeJoeExotic were everywhere on Twitter last year and some decided to take the campaign very literally. A group of Exotic supporters worked to get a presidential pardon from Donald Trump before he left office. Exotic even made an audio plea to Trump wherein he claimed that Carole Baskin’s “harassment” of him was equivalent to Nancy Pelosi’s treatment of Trump.
The Pardon Joe Exotic team, with their animal print vehicles, even flew to Washington, D.C. to drum up support. They made that journey on Jan. 6, 2021 — the day of the infamous raid on the U.S Capitol. The Exotic supporters even lambasted the Capitol rioters for trying to hijack their big day.
Joe Exotic was never pardoned by Donald Trump.
Shocking new claims from Allan Glover, the hitman
Tiger King 2 leaves its most shocking reveal until the very last episode. Allan Glover, the hitman allegedly hired by Exotic to kill Carole Baskin, reveals that he lied. He claims that he and Jeff Lowe, the current owner of Exotic’s zoo, were actually planning to murder Joe instead.
“I was going to have Joe’s head cut the f**k off,” Glover says in the series. The plan is even described in excruciating detail: Glover planned to string a line of barbed wire between two trees in the hopes Exotic would be decapitated by it when he drove by on his four-wheeler. Glover even shows the spot on the zoo compound where he planned to set the trap.
This plan is identical to the one they were reportedly going to use on Baskin. In a sworn affidavit, Glover says he never planned to kill Carole Baskin, but that he and Lowe set Exotic up for conviction. Lowe declined to comment on these new allegations.
Carole Baskin’s husband had a shady past
The first season of Tiger King spent a lot of time focusing on the conspiracy that Carole Baskin (the owner of Big Cat Rescue) killed her husband, Don Lewis — despite having very little tangible evidence and making the case mostly through editing.
Season 2 dedicates even more time to this strange theory. An entire episode is dedicated to Lewis's family trying to dig into the truth but the details we get are murky and tough to decipher.
It's alleged Lewis would take frequent trips to Costa Rica on his private plane, taking potentially millions of dollars to be laundered. His family claims he did this to ensure Baskin wouldn't get any of his money after a divorce. It is also alleged Lewis had a house where he kept young women and girls. Gionconda Bulgarelli, identified as Lewis’ neighbor in Costa Rica, said his house was known as “The Cursed House” because of its odd goings on.
There are also rumors that Lewis may still be alive, but no substantial evidence of any of these claims is offered in the show.
Both Tiger King and Tiger King season 2 are now available to watch on Netflix.
Kayleigh is a pop culture writer and critic based in Dundee, Scotland. Her work can be found on Pajiba, IGN, Uproxx, RogerEbert.com, SlashFilm, and WhatToWatch, among other places. She's also the creator of the newsletter The Gossip Reading Club.
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