Opinion: Tiger King misses the opportunity to bring awareness to animal abuse

The Netflix series failed to bring attention to animal abuse and, instead, showcased the humans in the series.


Shivansh Ahuja

A Malayan Tiger roams his area at the San Diego Zoo in San Diego on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019.

Angela Stansbery, Opinions Columnist

At the beginning of the series it briefly discusses animal abuse and what each person in the documentary thinks of it. One major consensus though is that those who have cats don’t believe they are the ones abusing them. The show doesn’t dive into opinions, rather letting each person state their side. However, by doing so, they aren’t bringing awareness to the topic at all, but rather glazing over it.

The only other mention of animal abuse after the many plot twists enter, is at the very end. The screen goes black and simply states, “5,000 – 10,000 tigers live in captivity in the U.S. Fewer than 4,000 tigers remain in the wild.”

Out of seven episodes, each around forty minutes long, this final message is nothing but a weak attempt to bring attention to the issue of animal abuse. It’s simply not enough, considering the platform they had to promote awareness.

Awareness of animal abuse has become a second thought in the show, which perfectly illustrates how much these animals are ignored in real life. What takes center stage is the ones who abuse them for money, fame and power. The big cats get little attention, simply cast aside so those craving the spotlight can take it.

Some might say that the show does showcase animal abuse by depicting the people of the show running their businesses. The cats are shown in cages and not big cages at that. However, that is not enough. The abuse is not being discussed and thus, lost within the documentation of the people and their jaw dropping choices.

No progress is being made in favor of animals because of this show and this show could have done a lot to bring awareness to such a serious topic. Tiger King didn’t have to eliminate the people or their plot twist of a tale. However, a bigger emphasis on the abuse that was taking place would have been helpful.

More emphasis would have allowed viewers to better understand the harsh conditions of these animals. Tiger King could have gone into more specifics about how these creatures were being treated instead of using them as backdrops for interviews.

Instead, the only thing the show has done is glorify the people who abuse the animals. People are dressing up as Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, which is fine it its own right, but the animals have been forgotten in the midst of this tv frenzy.

More film adaptions of the story are in the progress of being made but a better use of this platform would be to create a documentary that actually gives the animals a voice. Showcasing what captivity really means for these wild animals will help put the show more in perspective and make awareness more popular than those in the tv show plotting murder and craving fame.

Tiger King had every opportunity to develop its theme on advocacy for abused animals, but it gave up after the initial introduction of the topic. Slapping on a message at the end of the series isn’t good enough. The show fell too deep within the crazy lives of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin and forgot all about the animals that the story was meant to focus on.

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