Newly released footage confirms the Joe Exotic we know

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on April 8, 2020 with 10 Comments

We’ve known “Joe Exotic” (Joe Schreibvogel) for a long while, and we know him well. This week, we’re releasing additional footage from the Humane Society of the United States investigations focusing on Joe, Doc Antle and other wild animal breeders and traders that began in 2011. For those fighting to bring an end to the exotic animal industry in the United States, it’s ironic that the Netflix series “Tiger King” has made a household name of the tawdry tiger breeder and tout for the cub-petting industry. For some viewers, it might be easy to become fascinated by or even to sympathize with Joe and his misfit crew, notwithstanding his status as a convicted felon who killed tigers for the sake of convenience and hired a hit man to kill a sanctuary operator. But we cannot forget the reality that Joe Exotic and his associates have brazenly abused and preyed upon animals for decades. By highlighting the spectacle of his glittering jacket, two-tone hair and showboating hucksterism, the Netflix show consistently obscures the incalculable harm and cruelty for which he and other wild animal breeders and traders are responsible. Ultimately, too, it distracts us from the vital service of actual wildlife sanctuaries in the United States, and from our goal of passing the much-needed Big Cat Public Safety Act in the U.S Congress, which has received the important endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police.

You’ll hear again and again from animal breeders and traders of their good intentions and their “love” for animals. But as the HSUS’s investigative work concerning these big cat exhibitors demonstrates, business and profit motives always take precedence over animal welfare. The sort of love these folks profess isn’t the kind of love animals need, and in truth it means nothing because it inevitably gives way to cruelty, harsh treatment, and bald-faced exploitation of the animals they breed and keep.

Our investigations and the newly released footage confirm what we’ve seen again and again. There is a fixed pattern of mistreatment, abuse, and abandonment of tiger cubs and tigers who are ruthlessly exploited for cub petting and photo ops. The footage reveals additional instances of staff members abusing, hitting and mishandling animals, a pattern consistent across all the facilities investigated. In effect, cruelty is part of the business model.

As for the situations depicted in “Tiger King,” well, animals shouldn’t be in them at all. These ramshackle operations aren’t sanctuaries and these folks aren’t conservationists, either. There’s no need for and there’s certainly no social benefit from taking a selfie with a tiger cub whose next stop is a dismal backyard menagerie. Finally, there’s no reason society should bear the risks and costs of the many tragic incidents that have resulted from private ownership of wild animals.

That’s why the most timely step any caring citizen could take in the aftermath of Joe’s “fifteen minutes of fame” is to press for passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, H.R. 1380 and S. 2561, which would prohibit public contact with big cats of any age and ban the possession of big cat species like tigers and lions as pets.

This is also as good a time as any to support one of the accredited wildlife sanctuaries helping big cats and other wild animals in need. You can learn more about the legitimate animal sanctuary movement by visiting the websites of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance, and the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance. The sanctuaries listed on those sites are the real deal, places where love for animals has a true home, places of healing where animals receive the expert care and attention they require, and places of inspiration, which lift our sights to a nobler vision of what the human relationship with such majestic animals can and should be.

The true frame of reference for Joe and his friends is not the Netflix series; it’s the HSUS footage. These individuals are not merely oddballs, they’re dangerous outliers whose actions place the rest of us at great risk while producing the greatest misery for the animals they so shamelessly exploit.

Please contact your legislators and ask them to cosponsor the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R.1380/S. 2561).

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Investigations, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    esto tiene que acabar no podemos permitir que siga el tráfico de animales exóticos tenemos que cuidar a nuestros animalitos son parte de la naturaleza y nuestro mundo

  2. Jean Manson says:

    Please sponsor the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R.1380/S. 2561)

  3. Catalina Hernandez says:

    Thank you for sharing this heartbreaking footage. Thank you for pointing out the misguided and detrimental emphasis given to this criminal, instead of focusing on the shameless abuse of animals. The public also needs to be educated that photo ops with wildlife are not “ cute” or desirable. They put themselves in danger by sheer ignorance and are just as much to blame as the abusers. We can put them out of business by simply refusing to support their enterprises, and by supporting passage of protective legislation such as the Big Cat Public Safety Act.

  4. cecelia a. says:

    he needs to be stopped !!! his show should be cancelled !!! and face charges for the way he treats his animal’s.

  5. Dorothy Weller says:

    There aren’t any real angels in this show due to the producers calculated emphasis on sensationalism. We know there are good legitimate accredited animal sanctuaries that include the protection of big cats, but few of them have quirky salacious or gossipy titillating conspiracy back stories that would fit the conflict needs of this storyline. Carole unfortunately did have a rocky less than stellar start, but seems to be legitimate now, although still not in the league of some better known and less controversial respected sanctuaries.
    In the meantime this strictly mercenary depiction is unfortunately attracting many with a “gallows” mindset fascination and YES, this trainwreck of a saga only gets sadder by the day… 😣

    All the more reason to use this platform (perhaps the one and only silver lining in this mess) to promote accredited well-run animal sanctuaries. Among those is the Fund for Animals Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, a subsidiary HSUS organization.

    For those who also come away from this debacle feeling disgusted and in need of a shower, go to this link to support upcoming Big Cat Public Safety Act Federal legislation:

    • Nilene T Parry says:

      Please tell me, after seeing all of this cruelty, why in the hell can’t the animal’s, all of them, be legally taken away from this creep. He’s nothing if not nuts. Screwball misfit. PLEASE WHY CAN’T YOU TAKE THE ANIMALS ? And ban this cruel, psychotic bunch
      ALL OF THEM…

  6. Nan Cross says:

    Why are these people allowed to even have these animals? They don’t belong in cages. All of them should be in jail

  7. Krystle sinton says:

    Why can’t someone go in there and remove these beautiful cats away. They deserve so much better. I am so tired of hearing and seeing how humans treat animals around the world. How would it be if the shoe was on the other foot and we treated humans this way. Please stop and just love them. That’s all they ask .

  8. Jenn McCarthy says:

    My question is if you had this footage of what Joe was doing to these animals, why wasn’t anything done about it?

    Also there are many credible sanctuaries out there to support, but big cat rescue is not one of them. She is not a true sanctuary and has purchased a lot of her cats for her own collection.

  9. Becky Smith says:

    Share the Born Free Foundation’s animated video about this same sh*t happening in S. Africa with lion cubs. It’s very effective. So effective I’ll never watch it a 2nd time, I couldn’t bear it. I would think they would give you permission to use it, since you’re both fighting the same problem.

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