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Local Duo Reflects on Their Time with ‘Tiger King’ Joe Exotic

Nature Adventures - Tiger King
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Long after the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has come and gone, two figures from these most interesting of times will continue to live in our memories forever – Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and Joe Schreibvogel, better known to the world now as ‘Joe Exotic’ from the Netflix documentary series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness.

While many have looked to Dr. Fauci as a calming voice of reason and authority in a very uncertain time, ‘Joe Exotic’ has provided the ultimate escape from the steady beat of bad news from COVID-19.

Joe’s rise to fame began in 1997 when he and his parents purchased a 16-acre farm in Oklahoma. That farm later became the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park before being renamed the Garold Wayne Exotic Animal Memorial Park as a dedication to his late brother.

In 2000, Joe acquired his first tigers and was on his way to becoming ‘Joe Exotic’, big cat owner, reality TV star, country singer, and politician, running unsuccessfully for president in 2016 and later for governor of Oklahoma in 2018.

These days, Joe has traded in his Tiger King throne for a holding cell in a Texas prison. I’d tell you more, but I don’t want to spoil the documentary for those of you who haven’t seen it yet.

Long before Joe’s story took a tragic turn, he crossed paths with a pair of outdoor lovers from our neck of the woods – Terri Lawrenz and Todd Magnuson.

Together, this Upper Midwest-based duo produces, writes, shoots, edits, and hosts Nature Adventures with Terri and Todd, which has been regularly featured on South Dakota Public Television since the show began more than a decade ago.

About eight years ago, Terri and Todd got a call from a public relations firm in New York City that was representing ‘Joe Exotic’, wondering if they would consider traveling to Oklahoma to feature GW Animal Park on their show.

They agreed and subsequently spent two days shooting at the park and getting to know Joe. A few months later, Terri and Todd even traveled to Florida originally to testify on Joe’s behalf during a legal proceeding, only to find that the case had been dismissed by the time they got there. The trip eventually became a second video shoot with Joe, focusing on deep-sea fishing and an airboat excursion into the everglades.

With the recent popularity of the Netflix series, Terri and Todd have posted a 15-minute video on their YouTube channel titled Tiger King and Me, a look inside their experiences with the man we now know as ‘Joe Exotic’.

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The full Nature Adventures episode from 2012, GW Animal Park: Saving the Big Cats, can be seen on Amazon Prime Video, which is airing seven seasons of the series.

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