When Netflix casually released Tiger King earlier this month, it didn’t take long before the docu-series became the platform’s number one title. And for good reason — the story behind it absolutely nuts. Tiger King explores the dark secrets of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, run by larger than life big cat owner Joe Exotic (real name Joseph Schreibvogel). Even with lions and tigers pacing the expanse of the zoo, the real danger is Joe Exotic, whose personal vendetta against conservationist Carole Baskin reaches a shocking tipping point. Years after the events of their feud, Baskin is stepping back into the spotlight with a scripted series based on her life.
Months before Tiger King’s release on Netflix, Universal Content Productions inked a deal to create a limited series about Baskin’s almost-fatal beef with Exotic. TVLine reported that the plot of the storyline is adapted from Exotic’s personal podcast, Joe Exotic: Tiger King, but the show would focus more on Baskin’s perspective as a nemesis to the Tiger King himself. Saturday Night Live’s very own Kate McKinnon will serve as an executive-producer and is also slated to star in the project as the Florida animal rights activist who finds herself in Exotic’s direct line of fire.
Staunchly anti-big cat ownership, Baskin considered herself Exotic’s natural enemy and did everything in her power to shut down his exotic animal park; she spoke out against him as often as she could and even sued him in 2011 for trademark infringement after he used her company's (Big Cat Rescue) name and logo to promote the G.W. Zoo.
That lawsuit put Exotic a million dollars in the hole, the bankruptcy sparking a bitterness that led him to allegedly pay a hitman $10,000 to kill Baskins. The FBI got involved, and further investigation revealed that in addition to the murder-for-hire, Exotic had killed several animals at his park and had also committed fraud — he was sentenced to 22 years in prison in January.
The developing limited series will depict all of this drama and more, hopefully delving into the shadowy secrets of Baskins’ origin story as a conservationist. There’s been no word yet on which network has picked up the project or who else has signed on to portray the colourful characters of the Tiger King’s world.