In March 2020 the world was enthralled by Tiger King – one of Netflix’s most-watched shows to date – in which now famous, eccentric tiger breeders Joe Exotic, Jeff Lowe, and Doc Antle were introduced. The controversial true crime documentary exposed its cast’s obsession with big cats and all the ways to profit off them. Ahead of the start of the show’s second season on 17 November, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS shifts the spotlight from the notorious cast and their antics to the reality of tens of thousands of big cats still suffering as a result of a booming trade industry.
“There are an estimated 1,600 captive tigers in Europe, 10,000 in the US, and 1,500 in South Africa, while only around 3,900 are left in the wild. Tiger King may offer viewers a´shock-watch´entertainment show but a look behind the scenes reveals animal abuse and an international network of breeding, trade and exploitation of tigers, lions and other big cats. Once the animals lose their commercial value, they are often killed and their body parts, skin and bones are sold for use in traditional medicine or jewellery.
Tiger King is set in the US, but the situation is also out of control in Europe and most parts of the world. The private keeping as exotic pets and the use of tigers in circuses is still legal in a number of EU countries, and the commercial trade of big cats is poorly regulated and monitored. Easy access to purchase a tiger and inadequate keeping requirements in countries where private keeping is still legal makes a lucrative business for breeders and traders: A live tiger captive-bred in Europe can reportedly be worth up to €5,000, while a dead tiger can go up to €22,000.
Only a ban on the commercial trade of live big cats and their body parts can put an end to this cruelty. FOUR PAWS is working to protect all big cats by influencing legislation in key trade hot spots like Europe and South Africa and offering a permanent home for rescued big cats in our sanctuaries.
We urge viewers of Tiger King to fully understand that for the animals trapped behind bars it is a lifetime of suffering.”
Vanessa Amoroso, Head of Wild Animals in Trade at FOUR PAWS
Signing the #BreakTheViciousCycle petition and making sure to never visit and pay money to attractions that offer live interactions is a contribution to the work of FOUR PAWS to improve the lives of all big cats around the world and helps spread the word on this important issue.
FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org