Plea to Kate McKinnon: Don’t Use Animals in ‘Joe Exotic’ Scripted Series

For Immediate Release:

30 March 2020


Jennifer White +44 (0) 20 7837 6327, ext 222; [email protected]


PETA US Urges the Series’ Star and Producer and the Production Company to Use CGI or Existing Footage and Not Force Animals to Perform

London – PETA US has sent urgent letters asking Kate McKinnon and Universal Content Productions not to use real animals in their upcoming series about Joseph Maldonado-Passage (aka “Joe Exotic”), the big-cat exhibitor profiled in the Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, which chronicles the events that led to his 22-year prison sentence for murder-for-hire offences and wildlife crimes.

PETA US points out that animals suffer when used for entertainment, whether by roadside zoo operators like those featured in Tiger King or by trainers for the film and TV industry. Investigations by PETA US and law-enforcement agencies have uncovered that animals were whipped, illegally imported, and kept in deplorable conditions by animal suppliers for Hollywood productions – so the group is urging the new series’ producers to use only computer-generated imagery (CGI), animatronics, or even existing footage of big cats and other animals.

“Netflix’s Tiger King is calling critical attention to the abuse and neglect endured by big cats and other wild animals used for entertainment – progress that will be undone if real wild animals are used in Universal Content Productions’ upcoming Joe Exotic series,” writes PETA US Senior Manager of Animals in Film and Television Lauren Thomasson. “We hope you’ll agree that using technology such as CGI or animatronics or existing footage is the only conscionable way of depicting animals for your series.”

PETA US has been working for years to shut down Joe Exotic’s facility, most recently known as The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. The group’s undercover investigation revealed that tiger cubs were dying at his facility and documented that animals with gaping wounds were denied adequate veterinary care and confined to cramped, filthy enclosures. PETA US managed to rescue nearly 50 animals from his custody, all of whom are currently at reputable sanctuaries, and it also filed two lawsuits against facilities that acquired federally protected big-cat cubs from him for alleged violations of the US Endangered Species Act (ESA). PETA US recently prevailed in its lawsuit against a Florida exhibitor – the court’s ruling confirms that prematurely separating tiger cubs from their mothers and using them in public encounters violates the ESA.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – opposes speciesism, the human-supremacist worldview that other animals are nothing more than commodities. For more information, please visit