People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), one of the world's largest animal-rights organizations, has revealed a new Halloween costume available via their online store. The costume, which echoes criticisms that Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness's Joseph Maldonado-Passage has been transformed from a violent felon into a folk hero by the series, features Maldonado-Passage in his current state: wearing prison orange and hanging onto a set of bars. The costume also includes a wig and mustache that resembles "Joe Exotic's" trademark look from the popular Netflix series, as well as a "pouncing" plush tiger that's apparently intended to be attacking the big cat enthusiast.
PETA is rarely one to shy away from controversy. Rather, they tend to pursue it with campaigns like the years-long "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" campaign, which saw celebrities pose in their birthday suits. That campaign, which began in 1990, officially ended this week.
PETA's Brittany Peet, who appears in the docuseries, told THR, "Tiger King has exposed tiger exhibitors as ghouls who steal cubs from their mothers…and then often discard or kill them when they grow up. This Halloween, PETA will poke some pointed fun at a tiger killer who belongs behind bars, where he can no longer harm a hair on any animal's head."
Of course, it wasn't the tigers that eventually sent Maldonado-Passage to prison (at least not completely): the "Tiger King" was sentenced to 22 years in a federal prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot against Carole Baskin, owner of Big Cat Rescue and another of the documentary's odd cast of characters. He also was found guilty of killing five tigers in 2017. The series has revived interest in the disappearance of Baskin's husband, and the possibility (raised repeatedly in Tiger King) that Baskin killed him and fed him to tigers.
Netflix is notoriously opaque with its viewership numbers, but estimates are that more than 60 million people have seen the series since it debuted on March 20. The interest was enough to make it a cultural phenomenon and get a scripted TV version greenlit almost immediately. Earlier this week it came out that Nicolas Cage will play Maldonado-Passage in the show. The series will be based on the Texas Monthly article "Joe Exotic: A Dark Journey Into the World of a Man Gone Wild" by Leif Reigstad and produced by CBS.
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