Joseph Maldonado-Passage is the talk of the Netflix town at the moment. Better known to the greater quarantined public as Joe Exotic, he’s the subject of the streaming service’s latest hit true crime documentary, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. Exotic is an outlandish and highly controversial private zookeeper with a penchant for collecting big cats — needless to say, Joe’s story has to be seen to be believed.
The Netflix premiere of Tiger King earlier this month has propelled Joe Exotic to the kind of wider fame (albeit with a massive fucking asterisk next to it) he sought throughout the filming of the documentary, with the gripping series even moving Cardi B to half-jokingly (we hope) issue a call to her followers to help free Exotic from prison. He’s currently serving 22 years behind bars after being convicted of 17 counts of animal abuse and two counts of murder-for-hire, by the way.
The Tiger King buzz has left people wanting more, and if that includes you then: good news!
It turns out that the Netflix series wasn’t Joe Exotic’s first brush with acclaimed documentary filmmakers. Back in 2011, Joe was featured on America’s Most Dangerous Pets as the G.W. Exotic Animal Park was paid a visit by Louis Theroux. The documentary saw Theroux go “on safari in the suburbs” as he examined the growing trend of private animal collectors in the US, with Joe Exotic among his principal interviewees.
We won’t spoil the documentary for you, but here’s a preview clip of Joe rather joyfully explaining to Theroux that should the documentarian find himself being pinned down by a lion in one of the zoo’s many cages, he’d opt to shoot Theroux over the big cat as “it’d be more humane”.
“If I ever got attacked by a lion like that, shoot me please,” Joe tells Louis. “That would go on for hours… unless you shot the lion.” “Yeah, that would make more sense, shoot the lion,” Louis counters.
The documentary is currently available to watch on Netflix UK (search for ‘Beware of the Tiger’, which is marked as season 1 episode 14 in Netflix’s Louis Theroux collection), while it is also streaming on BBC iPlayer for the next 11 months.