Antle, who runs Myrtle Beach Safari, spoke to TMX.news to clarify details that he claims the Netflix series got wrong or exaggerated.
Antle alleges the filmmakers lied to him about the type of series he would be participating in.
“Remember, this is not a documentary. This is a salacious, outrageous ride through a television show produced to create drama, to just tie you into some crazy train wreck of a story between the feud of Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic, and the meltdown that ensued between two people who both are far too close to murder themselves, and I think a little bit of madness thrown in on their parts,” Antle reportedly told TMX.news.
The seven-part docuseries follows the life of zoo owner Exotic and the events that led to his allegedly hiring a hitman in a failed attempt to take out his main rival, Baskin, but many viewers were focused on whether she was involved in her ex-husband Don Lewis’ disappearance. Baskin denies the claims and has never been charged.
Antle said he “worked with the director for two and a half years, saw him probably five or six times for several days in a row each time.”
“That endless portrayal of a program that he was doing with us was purely about a wildlife conservation show about our work that we’re doing in Sumatra, Africa, to save endangered species there,” Antle said. “It was all about how the tigers that we have here have raised so much money that we’ve been able to go to Sumatra and create a new ranger station there … and that was the documentary that I worked on, and all of that stuff somehow found its way to the cutting room floor.”
Antle added: “It was not mentioned in any capacity that this show that I was working on would portray anything about Carole or Joe.”
“Questions about Carole and Joe were a dozen or so thrown into hundreds of others, and I repeatedly told them I have no desire to be involved in some show where you’ve got the feud of Carole and Joe going on; it’s not my thing, leave me out of it. Over and over, that was the intention, and that’s what we worked towards,” he said.
According to Antle, the Tiger King series suggests he euthanizes tiger cubs once they age out of being profitable as photo opportunities for guests.
“They pushed several notions, the worst of which is that somehow tiger cubs exist in copious amounts and that these tiger cubs have a value only as children and that that is a super short time, and then they’re just killed off afterwards,” he said. “Nothing more ridiculous has ever been said. No one does that.”
He was also frustrated with the series portraying him as a polygamist with a cult of only female employees.
“I’m a single guy. My wife died 25 years ago — the mother of my son and daughter, my youngest ones — and I’ve never been married since. I have girlfriends; I’m a single guy. This massive judgmentalness of somehow I’m not supposed to have girlfriends or something is just off my rocker here with how they got to this point,” he said.
“They are just looking for something to be outrageous. The girls that they are showing throughout the facility … these are the girls that are the wives of staff who live here. These are my grandchildren, these are my grandchildren’s fiancées, these are my son’s fiancée, this is a variety of ladies who devote their time here that are part of a team. The team is half men. Did you see any men in the series? They cut them all out to make it appear that this is a girl place.”
The Tiger King filmmakers have already released statements in regards to Baskin’s criticism of the series.
“I would just say we were completely forthright with the characters,” co-producer Rebecca Chaiklin said. “With any project that goes on for five years, things evolve and change, and we followed it as any good storyteller does. We could have never known when we started this project that it was going to land where it did.”
Lowe, Exotic’s former business partner who now owns GW Zoo, did not agree with the storyline alleging he stole the zoo from Exotic.
Lowe and his wife Lauren shared their thoughts on Tiger King while speaking to TMX.news.
“They touched on about 10 per cent of the story and, you know, the portrayal of us stealing the zoo from Joe was very unfair because we came here to help him; we got it back on its feet. We left to move away because we didn’t want to be in a zoo in Oklahoma, so the notion that we tried to steal the zoo from him is just ridiculous. But, you know, here we are in a zoo in Oklahoma,” Lowe said.
“I’m an easy-to-get-along-with guy. And I’ve always been the person that when you needed help, I was the one who’s going to help you. So it just really upset me to find out that the guy I was trying to help avoid the claws of this woman in Tampa that he would, once I turned my back, that he would stick so many blades into it,” Lowe said of Exotic.
Lowe also spoke about his involvement with Exotic getting arrested for the plot to murder Baskin and the euthanization of five tigers at the GW Zoo.
“We were being looked at by the feds just like Joe was, so we knew that and we had to protect ourselves. And if it means turning over a guy to the federal authorities that killed not just five tigers — five tigers was just the tip of the iceberg. You know, he’s killed a hundred tigers here that were not beneficial to him monetarily,” Lowe alleged.
“And you know, it’s just the five that they picked. We knew exactly where they were buried and we knew exactly how they died, so it was the five easiest to prosecute him and convict him on.”
He added: “Everybody in the park knew, everybody in Oklahoma knew, of Joe’s desire to have killed.”
“I’m not going to say for one minute that we didn’t all talk about it every day, every day that we were here,” Lowe said. “Lauren and I weren’t here for almost a year and a half. But while we were here, Joe would (say) every day: ‘We gotta kill that b—h. … She’s gotta go.’ It just became almost normal. He would have staff meetings at the end of the night, and the first thing out of his mouth would be: ‘Who’s going to go down and take care of this woman?’”
Members of the big cat community claim in the Netflix series that Baskin murdered Lewis and fed him to the tigers. Lewis was last seen alive on Aug. 18, 1997, before disappearing.
In regards to Baskin’s ex-husband’s disappearance, Lowe said he believes “without question” she was guilty of killing Lewis.
“We do believe she did kill her husband, but she had help. She had to have help,” his wife Lauren added.
“‘Holy mackerel, Carole killed her husband,’” he said. “Sure looks like it.”
Global News has reached out to Netflix for comment on Antle and Lowe’s criticism of the series.
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