After “Tiger King”: What’s Next for Joe Exotic’s Rescued Tigers?

Discover the current situation of Joe Exotic’s rescued tigers post-“Tiger King”.

This week on 60 Minutes, a team of journalists led by Jon Wertheim covered the daring rescue operation to relocate a zoo full of animals from Puerto Rico to animal sanctuaries across the mainland United States. The mastermind behind this ambitious mission is Pat Craig, the founder of The Wild Animal Sanctuary, who has become renowned for his expertise in high-stakes animal rescues worldwide, often involving the U.S. government.

In a previous assignment in 2021, Craig was called upon by the Department of Justice to retrieve big cats previously owned by the infamous “Tiger King” Joe Exotic and his associate Jeff Lowe, as depicted in the popular Netflix series. Correspondent Jon Wertheim and the 60 Minutes team visited The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, where they had the opportunity to meet tigers that had been rescued from Joe Exotic’s operation.

During an interview conducted outside the tigers’ expansive outdoor enclosure, Craig revealed that many of these animals had been confined to cages, restricting their movement to a few paces before encountering the bars and being forced to turn back. Upon their arrival at the sanctuary, the tigers displayed signs of undernourishment, with visible backbones and ribs.

Craig emphasized that being trapped in a cage prevented the tigers from expressing their natural behaviors. However, the sanctuary provided them with the space and terrain to rediscover their instincts, enabling activities such as running, chasing, stalking, and hiding in tall grass. As Craig explained to 60 Minutes, the tigers quickly adapted to their newfound freedom, with their natural behaviors resurfacing.

The vast open spaces at The Wild Animal Sanctuary allowed the tigers to sprint at full speed, reaching impressive velocities of up to 30 or 40 miles per hour. This exercise proved crucial in helping them regain the muscle tone they would typically develop in the wild.

According to Craig, one of Joe Exotic’s tigers arrived at the sanctuary weighing less than 400 pounds. However, after several years of care, it has now reached a weight of 600 pounds, exhibiting visible muscle definition in its arms. Craig expressed satisfaction that these tigers would now live out their lives happily and healthily.

In summary, the 60 Minutes report highlighted the extraordinary efforts led by Pat Craig and The Wild Animal Sanctuary to rescue and relocate animals from Puerto Rico to sanctuaries in the United States. The story also shed light on the rehabilitation process for tigers previously owned by Joe Exotic, emphasizing the positive impact of providing them with ample space and freedom to express their natural behaviors.

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