Categories: Zoos

How many cats does Joe Exotic have?

The answer is that he has no cats whatsoever. They are all gone. His private zoo is closed and the cats have been dispersed to other places I suspect. It was transferred to his great rival Carole Baskin, the person he conspired to murder. He is in prison serving a 22 year sentence. I would expect that he has little in the way of possessions never mind cats or other sentient beings. The judge who sentenced him banned him from owning tigers ever again, apparently.

At one time he did have more than 200 cats at his zoo (the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park (a.k.a. G. W. Zoo) in Wynnewood, Oklahoma) but that era is firmly in the past. The question should be, “How many cats did Joe Exotic have?”

Joe Exotic and his zoo. Illustration: PoC. Pic of Exotic in public domain (mugshot). Zoo pic: Google Maps.

His life has irreversibly changed for the better for the cats because he was not good zookeeper. He needed to breed tiger and lion cubs to entertain customers whose children liked to play with them. But when these cubs grew up they became surplus to requirements, so what did he do with them? Did he kill them or park them in a cage in a corner of his facility? He didn’t want them because he needed money-earning cats and that meant cute little tiger and lion cubs which are highly profitable. The overheads at his zoo were enormous. He had America’s largest private zoo at one time. He also kept other animals such as bears and smaller cat species such as lynx to the best of my knowledge.

The great problem, for me, about Mr Joe Exotic is that Netflix are going to make another film about him and his conflict with Carole Baskin. I worry that Netflix are turning this likeable but deluded character into a celebrity. I say that he is likeable because he was described as that by the celebrity interviewer and documentary maker Louis Theroux. Perhaps he was nice in a deluded fake-charming way but they should not take away from the fact that he had little regard for animal welfare. He thought that tigers would become extinct relatively quickly and therefore there was no point in thinking about conservation.

He also believed that if a tiger was born in captivity, in a cage, they never knew what life would be like in the wild and therefore were happy living in a cage. He conveniently brushed under the carpet the possibility that tigers have in their DNA, in their inheritance, the desire to roam over hundreds of square kilometres which would be their normal territory. And to confine them to a cage, 30 feet by 30 feet, all their lives is in my view barbaric and cruel causing mental torment and often pacing. When a tiger or any other animal paces it is as a coping mechanism, a diversionary tactic to displace their mental anguish with something more acceptable. You can be sure that they pacing tiger is suffering emotionally.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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