‘Tiger King’: Rick Kirkham Claims Joe Exotic Wanted to Bring Back the Sabertooth Tiger

The Netflix series, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness focuses on Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic. He owned the G.W. Zoo and had several big cats. His former producer, Rick Kirkham said he had an unbelievable goal when it came to big cat breeding.

‘Tiger King’ focused on Joe Exotic’s feud with Carole Baskin

Tiger King
Tiger King | Netflix

The Netflix series focused on Maldonado-Passage and Carole Baskin’s feud. She tried to stop his business because he was breeding tigers to have cubs for customers to pet.

Maldonado-Passage was eventually sent to prison for 22 years for attempting to hire someone to murder her. He was also found guilty for violating the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records and violating the Endangered Species Act, according to the Department of Justice’s release.

Baskin spoke out against the series in a blog post called “Refuting Netflix Tiger King.” She wrote that she was told the project would be like Blackfish, but about the breeding of big cats for cub exploitation. “There are not words for how disappointing it is to see that the docuseries not only does not do any of that, but has had the sole goal of being as salacious and sensational as possible to draw viewers,” read the post. 

Rick Kirkham used to produce Joe Exotic’s show

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One of the people interviewed in Tiger King is Kirkham. He talked about producing Maldonado-Passage’s nightly show that streamed online called Joe Exotic T.V. The G.W. Zoo owner would often talk about Baskin and the animal rights movement on the show.

“He knew that I could make him famous,” Kirkman said on the show. “I took it to a new level because I made it look like a real television show.” He claimed Maldonado-Passage’s popularity grew with his help. Kirkham also unsuccessfully tried to get a reality show made focused on Maldonado-Passage.

However, they went their separate ways. Kirkham claimed the zoo owner wasn’t happy to find out the producer owned all the rights to footage he shot of him.

He claims he was trying to bring back the sabertooth tiger

The former producer talked about Baskin and Maldonado-Passage’s feud. He also claimed to know one of his goals when it came to breeding tigers.

“The whole Carole Baskin/Joe Exotic fight and argument was over breeding, is what basically it came down to. That he was breeding tigers trying to make little ligers, and in his process trying to bring back the sabertooth tiger,” Kirkham said on the Joe Exotic podcast. “You know just that whole scenario alone is just absurd. But that was his whole thing.”

Kirkham doesn’t think Baskin was that innocent. “I think she has been as guilty as he was. She was breeding tigers,” he alleged. “She was doing the same thing he was. But I think Carole enjoyed just making him blow up like a balloon with a needle every time she poked at him.”

He later talked about the outcome of their feud. “Power to her that she could hold her calm. She’s not the cleanest lady in the world, but you know what? She wins in the end I guess, the battle of Joe and Carole.”