You have to assume the behind-the-scenes stories coming out of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness are only going to get crazier at this point, right?
Yet another person featured in the Netflix show is speaking out against its main star, Joe Exotic. This time, it’s Rick Kirkham — the former journalist and reality TV producer who worked closely with the big cat lover at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park — who sat down for a new interview where he revealed some truly awful details that didn’t make it into the now-viral docuseries.
Kirkham spoke to Justin Sylvester of E!‘s Daily Pop and claimed that the docuseries “is extremely accurate, but it didn’t go near as far as what it could’ve gone.” He admitted:
“There was a whole lot more to talk about; a whole lot more that could’ve been shown about Joe Exotic and just how wild and crazy and evil-hearted the man really was.”
According to him, a more accurate depiction would take the documentary, “multiply it [and] put it on steroids.” As Kirkham explains in Tiger King, much of what he describes was initially all caught on his own cameras with the footage intended for a reality show about Mr. Exotic, whose legal name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage:
“Joe wanted us to run the cameras 24 hours a day, and we did. We shot thousands of hours of things, and everything from him killing animals to abusing people, abusing animals—he knew it was all on tape. And he wanted it recorded. But he never wanted all of it released.”
For those who watched the doc, you’ll recall how all of Kirkham’s footage was lost in a fire at the zoo; investigators never determined who started the fire and Maldonado-Passage denied any involvement, but Rick definitely believes Joe had something to do with it!
The reality TV producer also revealed a disturbing account of animal abuse on Joe’s part that viewers didn’t get to see in the doc. He said Joe Exotic would kill his older tigers and then “feed them right to the other tigers.” Awful! He went on to share a story where he once watched Maldonado-Passage kill a horse a woman had brought him because he claimed he would take care of it and let it use his big pasture.
“Before she got off the park—he said, ‘Rick, roll your camera. Roll your camera. Come on, you’re gonna love this Rick,’—he walked up, pulled a gun out of his holster and shot the horse dead in the trailer and then cut it up with a chainsaw and then fed it to the tigers that day.”
As reported, Mr. Exotic is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence after being charged with killing five tigers and committing other wildlife violations, in addition to being found guilty for a murder-for-hire plot involving Big Cat Rescue CEO Carole Baskin. People followed up on Kirkham’s horse story and confirmed Exotic is not currently facing any criminal charges for allegedly killing the horse that’s referenced.
Kirkham claimed Joe would frequently sneak up behind people and shoot at them or the ground “just to scare the s**t” out of them” for his own amusement:
“He’d pull out a gun and shoot right through the walls of the studio. I mean, he was just that crazy.”
He continued to recall:
“There were a lot of strange things that went on in there. It really was a rough time in my life. I had to go get psychiatric help after working in that zoo. And to this day, now that it’s come back with the docuseries, I’m seeing a therapist again.”
Wow. Because of the strange things he allegedly witnessed while working with Joe, Kirkham said he doesn’t blame Netflix for capitalizing on the same show concept he initially had:
“I’m not pissed at all. If anything, I’m grateful because, to be quite honest with you, about four months after I was there, I started realizing what was going on and seeing things that I knew were wrong. I started kind of selling out my own journalistic integrity by not stopping it. And I felt guilty. So when the zoo fire happened, I had all that guilt on top of me from what I had seen.”
The 61-year-old said he expects some “karma” for ever getting involved with Joe Exotic:
“It wasn’t losing the project that knocked me down, it was the fact that I had let myself go that far…So karma came back around for both Joe and I. The karma comes around in that I didn’t get to make my show. I lost everything I had. Karma came around for him in that he’s now sitting in jail as the most famous man on the planet.”
He reflected on the problematic long-term implication of the controversial big cat lover’s rise to fame:
“That’s the real irony here, is the fact that Joe Exotic, all he ever wanted in his life was to be famous; the most famous man in the world. Today he is, and he’s sitting behind bars. I bet he is scratching down the walls of his jail cell, knowing that he has now gotten all of the fame he wanted and he can’t do a damn thing with it.”
Wow!! He truly did not hold back one bit, Perezcious readers!
We’ll be interested to see what else he reveals during the upcoming Tiger King reunion show hosted by Joel McHale, streaming on Netflix on Sunday, April 12. Will U be tuning in?
[Image via Netflix].