In the early stages of the lockdown, Netflix’s Tiger King seemed like the only thing anybody could talk about. Within 10 days of its premiere, it was watched by 34.3 million viewers, making it more popular than Stranger Things Season 2. In the weeks following, it spawned numerous memes, discussions about conservation, and questions of why we were all so transfixed by such “cruel and appalling” content. The first season was quickly followed by a Joel McHale-hosted special, which featured interviews with subjects including former zoo keeper Saff Saffery and Joe Exotic’s former husband John Finlay.
Now, a second season of Tiger King promises “newfound revelations” about the “motivations, backstories, and secrets of America’s most notorious big cat owners.” Though Joe Exotic is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence in Texas, the new episodes includes interviews with Jeff Lowe, Tim Stark, Allen Glover, and James Garretson. There’s also footage of law enforcement raiding Exotic’s compound, and new segments about Don Lewis, Carole Baskin’s husband who went missing in 1997.
In some ways it feels like Netflix is drawing out a story that already reached its conclusion, but it nonetheless begs the question: will there be a Tiger King Season 3? Exactly how much is there left to explore in this particular saga? Here’s what we know so far.
The Tiger King Season 3 Premiere Date
Netflix has not officially greenlit Tiger King for Season 3. It took the streaming site over a year to confirm a second season, so there likely won’t be any word for a while.
The Tiger King Season 3 Cast
Though Joe Exotic is in prison, he has repeatedly tried to appeal his sentence, meaning developments in his case could continue to be featured in future seasons. On July 14, a court ordered that he be re-sentenced after determining that his two murder-for-hire charges should have been grouped together. If the court groups the counts together instead of considering them as separate sentences, Exotic’s prison term could be as low as 17 and a half years.
Two other figures who seem willing to return to Tiger King for a potential third season are Jeff and Lauren Lowe. They note in Season 2 that since the debut of Tiger King, they’ve earned “more money than God.”
One subject you can definitely count out? Carole Baskin. Per Variety, she sued Netflix for using footage of her and Lewis in Tiger King 2, claiming that she only signed appearance release forms for the first season. Netflix countered that the releases they signed in 2019 explicitly permitted the footage to be used in future projects, and a judge ruled that Baskin had “no claim.” But she’s nonetheless made her disdain for the docuseries known, telling Variety that creators Eric Goode or Rebecca Chaiklin are not “true documentarians” and calling Tiger King a “reality show dumpster fire.”
The Tiger King Season 3 Plot
It’s unclear what future Tiger King seasons could explore — and what exactly would be gained from continuing the show. According to the New York Times, Goode and Chaiklin claimed to the series’ subjects that Tiger King would expose the big cat trade industry. But Carney Anne Nasser, the director of the Animal Welfare Clinic at Michigan State University, stated that’s simply not the case, as the message of conservation takes a back seat to the “soap opera-esque drama.”
Tim Harrison, a retired police officer and exotic wildlife specialist in Ohio, agreed, stating that if anything, Tiger King has had a negative impact. "We’re going to start seeing more selfies with cubs, more people wanting tiger cubs” due to the way the series lionized Exotic, he said. Harrison added that he refused to participate in the series because it “sounded like potentially it could be a freak show.”
So could Netflix could continue to follow the exploits of big cat owners like Jeff Lowe and Doc Antle? Sure. But should they?