With tigers, murder plots, and polygamy, Netfix’s Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness presented incredulous viewers with a story that was too strange to be a work of fiction. As the documentary progressed, we met an array of characters who were unbelievably bizarre, alongside others who were just normal folks navigating a pretty crazy situation. It all begs the question: who’s crazier than whom?
25. Anne McQueen
It goes without saying that the most normal and balanced character in Tiger King had to have been Anne McQueen. She worked as secretary to Don Lewis, Carole Baskin’s second husband, for 18 years. But Anne was much more than a mere employee to the man; she was one of Don’s most trusted friends and one of the beneficiaries of his $1.25 million life insurance policy.
While seemingly normal, her connection to Don and Carole saw her life delve into the strange when Don mysteriously vanished at the suspected hands of Carole. She’s been vocal about what she sees as Carole’s involvement in his disappearance for years and hasn’t been spared the raw end of Carole’s backlash. As of today, Don’s former assistant is currently residing in Tampa, Florida with her husband and they are currently running some Airbnb properties.
24. Shirley and Francis Schreibvogel
Their son became a national phenomenon, but not much is said about Shirley and Francis Schreibvogel in the Netflix special. We do know that when Carole was suing Joe for big bucks, it was his parents that suffered the most financially, as almost everything was in Shirley’s name. While they seemed like your normal run-of-the-mill parents, they can’t be completely normal. After all, these two were responsible for raising Joe Exotic.
Joe has claimed that his childhood was loveless, riddled with foul abuse and homophobia. He claimed his parents saw him and as his siblings more as farmhands than children. Little is known about Joe’s parents, but we do know that Shirley passed away in 2019. Her death wasn’t investigated, and Joe was quick to point his finger at Jeff Lowe, claiming the man had everything to gain from her death and probably killed her via a trick drug overdose.
23. Marc Thompson
When animal rights activists were coming at Joe from every angle, he hired Marc Thompson as his personal security guard. While he came across as a standard security guard without many quirks and wasn’t very memorable in the series, some things do come into question.
If there’s anything we learned from Tiger King, it’s that Joe didn’t exactly hire people who could be classified as normal. Would one expect Joe’s security guard, a man who was by Joe’s side for an extended amount of time, to be any different? Not much is known about Marc since Joe’s been imprisoned and he doesn’t seem to be active on social media.
22. Tim Stark
When it comes to people who collect wild animals, you can bet that they will always be a bit off-kilter, at least to a certain extent. Some definitely take this to the extreme, though others can still appear perfectly normal on the surface. Tim Stark is definitely the latter. We were introduced to Wildlife in Need’s Tim Stark when Joe was already out of the picture.
Stark signed on as Jeff Lowe’s business partner and the two began giving the G.W. Zoo a much-needed facelift. However, it didn’t take long for their partnership to crack, and Stark then set his focus on his own zoo in Indiana, Wildlife In Need. While many would have expected things to calm down for him, Tim was recently accused of animal mistreatment by state officials. He now finds himself the subject of an ongoing investigation.
21. Masha “The Nanny” Diduk
As the docuseries Tiger King came to a wrap, we got a memorable, yet undeniably cringeworthy scene featuring Jeff Lowe and his wife Lauren. They were looking for a nanny for their coming baby. Jeff talked about the importance of getting an attractive nanny, along with a few other rather sexist remarks.
Once Tiger King ended, many fans wondered if Lauren and Jeff ever got that sizzling nanny. The couple didn’t disappoint as they later introduced fans to Masha Diduk via Instagram. Not much is known about the nanny besides her being a model first and a nanny second. There aren’t any interviews with her, so we can’t exactly say how weird she is. But living with Jeff and Lauren can’t make you exactly normal.
NEXT: Looks can be deceiving — and this character is living proof!
20. Rick Kirkham
Rick Kirkham saw a million-dollar plan in Joe Exotic and the G.W. Zoo. After seeing Joe’s craigslist ad for a producer, he moved onto the park and immediately began working on JoeExoticTV. He had hopes of getting enough footage to put on a hit reality TV show. However, his years of footage were all lost in a suspicious fire. This was the event that saw him breaking ties with Joe and leaving the park in tears.
While he definitely isn’t your average guy, the former Inside Edition reporter is a lot more bizarre then one would make out. He once had a terrible cocaine addiction that was the subject of a documentary called TV Junkie. After losing his footage, Kirkham married a Norwegian woman and is currently living in Norway, which is pretty far from any exotic animals.
19. Barbara “Bala” Fisher
Barbara Fisher described for us a much darker side of Doc Antle’s Myrtle Beach Safari. The former employee started working for him in 1999 at the age of 19. Barbara said that she and the other workers lived in squalor, were paid peanuts, and that a job promotion wasn’t possible for them unless they became one of Doc’s lovers.
During her time there, she had her name changed to Bala and was gifted breast implants by Doc, as he wanted all his girls to have sex appeal. Despite her complaints, she did stay on at the park until 2007. Upon hearing her claims, Doc struck back and described her as a worker with a lot of family problems and mental instability. As of today, Barbara is living with her husband and child in Ames, Iowa.
18. Doc Antle’s Wives
While Myrtle Beach Safari’s Doc Antle keeps his focus on his big cats and other wild animals, the docuseries focused mostly on his “wives”, who actually aren’t his wives at all. Moksha, China, and Rajnee have been working on Doc’s Myrtle Beach Safari for years and eventually became his lovers. The ladies have properties on the safari and have been described on Tiger King as his wives.
After the docuseries was released, Doc Antle was quick to deny their marital status, and even stated during an interview with People Magazine, “I’m not married. My wife died 25 years ago in a car crash here in Myrtle Beach. I’ve never been married since. I certainly have lovely girls that I’ve met in my life who share time and opportunity with me, but they are by no means my wives.” Regardless, something fishy is surely going on.
NEXT: This next character definitely had viewers scratching their heads!
17. Lauren Lowe
Lauren Lowe is Jeff’s partner-in-crime. Together the two lived a life of debauchery in Las Vegas and eventually took things to Joe Exotic’s G.W. Zoo. While she doesn’t have the intimidation factor that her husband Jeff has, she has a kind smile and charms, which can be twice as dangerous and deceitful.
Once her and her husband weaseled their way into Joe’s zoo, they eventually took it over completely. While the move was shady, the two managed to clean up the place. In an interview with head keeper Erik Cowie, he describes it as being a more serene and less hectic work environment under their ownership. We can imagine that Lauren would be a much kinder manager then Joe.
16. Mario Tabraue
Mario Tabraue came across as remarkably level-headed in Tiger King. Sure, he had his past, but we all do. However, when your past is being one of the biggest drug dealers in 1980s Miami, coupled with an obsession with collecting wildlife, you definitely have to have a few screws loose.
His life in the drug game is all in the past and the man is currently basking in his own private zoo. If you want to visit, you’ll have no such luck, as it is under 24-hour surveillance and there are guards placed throughout the compound. Since Tiger King was filmed, Mario is living it up with his new girlfriend Vanessa Castellanos Valencia, and you can keep tabs on them via their Instagram accounts.
15. Howard Baskin
We cross paths with a number of variations of Howard Baskin’s personality type in our day-to-day life and they’re all about as regular as salt and pepper shakers on a kitchen table. However, Tiger King’s Howard Baskin definitely had his weird side, and it’s hard not to when you belong to Carole Baskin.
He at first appears to be your normal, square business type. However, too many times during the docuseries we see Howard hopping around crooning a song like a faun in the woods, or posing for strange photographs, on occasion wearing a leash and costume. This tells us plenty about what he’s probably like when cameras aren’t rolling. Since the release, Howard has remained by Carole’s side and has recently uploaded a video statement on YouTube slandering the documentary.
14. Dillon Passage
Only two months after the tragic passing of Travis, Joe jumped into a relationship with Dillon Passage. It was a move that left Travis’ family and friends shocked and appalled. In a recent interview, Dillon revealed that he and Joe first crossed paths on the app Grindr, and met for their first date shortly thereafter. The new couple quickly tied the knot and began a new life together.
In terms of being crazy, Dillon Passage seems far from Travis Maldonado or John Finlay, in part because he’s Joe’s only husband who’s actually gay. However, one has to be willing to deal with some pretty extraordinary things to get into a relationship with Joe Exotic and then marry him. Even after Joe’s conviction, the two apparently still talk three to five times a day.
13. Erik Cowie
Erik Cowie was Joe’s head zookeeper for five years. When things went down for Joe, Cowie didn’t hesitate to point a finger at his former boss and testify against him. While he looked more fit to be in an ’80s metal band, it didn’t take long to see that the man’s passion truly does lie in tigers.
Tiger King updates have revealed that Erik is still working as the head keeper at the G.W. Zoo, and couldn’t be happier with Jeff and Lauren’s takeover of management. When asked how he felt about Joe being in prison, Cowie said that he hoped Joe rotted in there. His grudge wasn’t over Baskin, but the horrible way Joe treated the animals. According to Cowie, Joe would execute a tiger without a second thought.
12. James Garretson
Even the oldest and dearest friendships can crumble when Joe Exotic is on the scene. According to the docuseries, Joe and James Garretson had been friends for twenty years. However, this didn’t stop James from setting his friend up and getting him locked in the slammer on a 22-year sentence. While he claimed to have done it out of good conscience, others say he became an informant to keep himself out of trouble.
While James also had a history with owning zoos and shelters, he eventually delved into the world of bars and strip clubs, which he continues to run today. He’s also in the business of renting out jet-skis. A clip in Tiger King of him riding on one of his jet-skis has exploded into a famous meme. Since the documentary, the bizarre character has a finger pointed sharply at Jeff Lowe, and has vowed that he will go down next.
11. John Reinke
John Reinke, a long-time volunteer at the G.W. Zoo, was always on the extreme side. Before working for Joe, he was a bungee jumper. However, life put that career on the shelf after the risk taker lost both legs in a zip-lining accident. While most would toss aside their thrill-seeking ways after that, John Reinke then decided to work full-time with tigers at the G.W. Zoo.
He’s one of the few characters on the documentary to retain a soft spot for Joe. He doesn’t claim the man is innocent, but doesn’t want him to die in prison either. As of today, the meek character has divorced his wife of 30 years and is now in a new relationship. He also took on a new career as a mechanic.
10. John Finlay
John Finlay, one of Joe Exotic’s husbands, came across as nothing short of otherworldly in Tiger King. He was interviewed shirtless, and gap-toothed, and presented to viewers as a heavily-tattooed, drugged-up hillbilly. He began working with Joe at the age of 19 and was immediately taken under the man’s charms. John eventually found himself in a three-way marriage with Joe and Travis. However, this would not last.
Finlay eventually exited from the marriage, having impregnated a female worker before taking off with her. Upon Tiger King’s release, he wasn’t pleased with how the documentary portrayed him. While he does admit that he flirted with methamphetamine for a while, he had been clean for half a decade by the time filming began. As of today, he works as a welder, lives in a Motel 6 with his fiancée, and sports a sparkling new set of teeth.
9. Don Lewis
While we weren’t treated to any interviews or live footage of Don Lewis on Tiger King, it’s safe to say that the guy’s behavior was erratic to say the absolute least. He picked up a crying young lady on the street, ended up ditching his family for her, and then opened up Florida’s Wildlife on Easy Street zoo.
Carole left her abusive first husband for Don. Sadly, he’d prove to be awful in a completely different way, frequently cheating on Carole and threatening to divorce her and leaving her with nothing. Just as the proceedings were about to go underway, Don mysteriously vanished. It’s claimed he had been suffering from bipolar disorder at the time. While the case went cold fairly quickly, many believe Carole had him killed and fed to her tigers.
8. Kelci “Saff” Saffery
Kelci Saffery, better known as Saff, was a longtime keeper at Joe Exotic’s G.W. Zoo. Before anything, we’re going to say that Saff is someone that would never be seen as crazy or strange at first glance. However, this can all be tossed aside once you understand the story behind his amputated arm, as the background hints that something is more than a little off about his character.
Saff got his arm ripped off by a tiger, but rather than saying enough was enough, he opted to come right back to work a week after having it amputated. If that isn’t crazy, what is? Once things began boiling over between Joe and Jeff, Saff left the zoo behind. While there isn’t much information about Saff regarding his current situation, his Linkedin profile says that he is currently back at the zoo working as a head keeper.
NEXT: While this character seemed normal, they’d eventually take us all by surprise.
7. Joshua Dial
Looking back at Tiger King, Joshua Dial was seemingly the most level-headed person in the Joe Exotic camp. He was Joe’s campaign manager when he was running to be the governor of Oklahoma. Once this failed, he cut ties with Joe, but he would never fully get over his experiences at the G.W. Zoo. He was the only man on the scene when Joe’s husband Travis accidentally killed himself.
Seeing that it happened during a chaotic time between Joe and Lowe, Joshua was never allowed to get any immediate help and still suffers from PTSD till this day. He seemed pretty normal on the documentary, but news recently broke that after filming Tiger King he attacked a man with a samurai sword and got arrested.
6. Travis Maldonado
Just 19 years old at the time, Travis Maldonado was quite innocent when he showed up at the G.W. Farm. Sadly, it didn’t take long for Joe Exotic to take advantage of that innocence and transform him into one of his lovers and eventually one of his husbands, even though he was presumably not gay, and having trysts with girls at the park. Meth and other drugs functioned as a tool to keep Travis on a tight leash.
As the docuseries progressed, we saw this clean-cut kid turn into a wildcard. He began driving his quad recklessly while flashing his handgun around and pointing it at people. Travis eventually died of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. This happened in the G.W. Zoo gift shop right in front of Joshua.
5. Allen Glover
Allen Glover wasn’t the weirdest character in Tiger King, but he was definitely the scariest. Having served multiple convictions in the past, some for assault, he stepped on the G.W. Zoo as Jeff Lowe’s right hand man. He took an immediate dislike to Joe, but did agree to kill Carole Baskin for him for the price of $3,000.
While Allen started out on his mission to kill Carole Baskin, he eventually backed out of the job and decided to party and do drugs with some strangers instead. Ultimately, he would show up at the courthouse during Joe’s trial and testify against him. While not much is known about Allen today, it’s a safe bet that he’s probably still working for Jeff Lowe.
4. Jeff Lowe
Jeff Lowe isn’t only devious and deceitful, but he’s also on the sexist side. We’ll never forget the way he swooned over the idea of a hot nanny in front of his pregnant wife. However, Jeff Lowe was first presented much differently. He was Joe’s knight in shining armor, the hero who was going to save G.W. Zoo from Carole Baskin’s crippling lawsuit. He won over viewers for about a quarter of a second, but then reality took hold.
With a conniving wife and a terrifying felon as his right hand man, the Las Vegas playboy quickly shed his phony image and took complete control of Joe’s G.W. Zoo. He and his ragtag team encouraged Joe to murder Carole and then set him up for the crime. This effectively removed Joe from the picture and gave Jeff complete control of the zoo. Today, he and Lauren are still running the zoo and are currently talking about relocating the property.
3. Bhagavan “Doc” Antle
When it comes to all the big cat owners on Tiger King, Doc Antle definitely comes across as the real Tiger King. Comparing Joe’s G.W. Zoo and Carole’s Big Cat Rescue to the Myrtle Beach Safari would be like comparing a Motel 6 to a Ritz-Carlton. Now matter how professionally he presents (and directs) himself, Doc Antle definitely is as far as possible from being on the normal side of the equation.
Doc isn’t about to make anyone mysteriously disappear, but the docuseries holds nothing back when it talks about the many young women he hired to stay on with at the safari. After the documentary was released, Doc denied having any wives at all and talked about having 12 male workers on the safari that were completely overlooked by the cameras. Still, with a name that literally means “God” in Sanskrit and the makings of a cult, those male workers aren’t much of an alibi.
2. Carole Baskin
Big Cat Rescue owner and crazy cat lady gone off the deep end, Carole Baskin is one of Tiger King’s strangest and most fascinatingly complex characters. Most of the intrigue stems from the mysterious disappearance of her second husband Don Lewis. The day before he disappeared, Don threatened to leave Carole without a penny to her name, vanishing before he could make that possible. Carole then worked her magic and got almost all of his assets put in her name.
While nobody could outright prove that she killed her husband, more than enough people are convinced. Once Don was out of the way, she set her sights on Joe Exotic and claimed that he was exploiting his animals, leading to the bitterest of feuds. Eventually, he tried and failed to have her killed. Since Tiger King‘s release, an investigation surrounding Don’s disappearance has been reopened. That nervous laughter tic isn’t helping exonerate her.
1. Joe Exotic
When it comes to weird and explosive characters on Tiger King, it doesn’t get any crazier than the Tiger King himself, Joe Exotic. The G.W. Zoo owner made bizarre look fun in the first few episodes. He toted firearms, starred in country music videos, dressed up in flamboyant outfits that mixed Joe Dirt with Elton John, and lived in a lavish three-way marriage. He ran for governor of Oklahoma, and U.S. president. Sadly, all that glitters isn’t gold.
Throughout his two-decade run at the G.W. Zoo, Joe found his foil in Carole Baskin. Through her, he eventually became his own worst enemy. With meth-fueled rage, Joe became obsessed with bringing her down and eventually lost it all because of it — not to mention executing tigers. Today, Joe is serving a 22-year sentence for his failed murder-for-hire plot. From behind bars, he talks to his new husband Dillon on a daily basis and is apparently pretty happy with the attention he garnered from Tiger King.
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