Tiger King: Meet the big cat owners of Australia who risk their lives to care for endangered animals
Netflix’s Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem And Madness has gone viral in Australia.
And while the documentary series focuses on big cat sanctuaries and zoos in America, there are plenty of tigers and lions fans can see much closer to home.
Below, Daily Mail Australia reveals Australia’s answer to Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, minus his 22-year sentence for a lease for murder and other crimes.
These Aussie zoo keepers risk their lives every day to care for the deadly animals.
Meet the local Tiger (and Lion) Kings! Australian fans of Netflix’s Tiger King with Joe Exotic (pictured) don’t have to travel far to see big cats Down Under
Dave Murphy of Mansfield Zoo is arguably Victoria’s biggest big cat lover.
Mr. Murphy and his wife Bronwen Wilson run the private zoo, 180 kilometers northeast of Melbourne, and love and care for all their African lions.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to close their doors, tourists could see him feeding the animals and even spending the night near their cages.
In a hilarious photo, Mr. Murphy dressed as Santa Claus who fed the deadly lions at Christmas, showing that they are a beloved part of the family.
Love and Care: Dave Murphy (pictured) runs wife Mansfield Zoo in Victoria with wife Bronwen Wilson, treating their African lions as beloved relatives
Up close, up close and personal: Before COVID-19 forced them to close their doors, tourists could see Mr. Murphy feeding the lions at the zoo, which is 80 kilometers northeast of Melbourne
Local star: Mr Murphy is known for his live feeding of the lions at Mansfield Zoo
Australia Zoo has Bengal and Sumatran tigers on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
However, the family-run establishment in Irwin has previously made headlines for all the wrong reasons with their tigers, after several attacks on zoo keepers.
In 2013, a 114 kg Bengal tiger named Charlie got ‘too excited’ and bit his handler Dave Styles on his neck and shoulder during a tiger show.
The following year, a 10-year-old Sumatran tiger named Juma bit another zoo keeper while the animal moved from one enclosure to another.
“One of our tigers tagged a keeper on his leg today. Keeper has a puncture wound but is fine. Juma the tiger is also good, ” Australia Zoo tweeted after the incident in 2014.
What an experience: At Mansfield Zoo, guests can also spend the night at the animal cages
Be careful: Australia Zoo has Bengal and Sumatran tigers on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland and has previously made headlines after several attacks on goalkeepers
Similarly, another Australian zoo keeper, Che Woolcott, suffered puncture wounds on his arms after being torn apart by Sumatran tiger Raun in January 2016.
Mr Woolcott was ‘scratched’ by the 12-year-old tiger during their routine morning walk in an off-display area at Australia Zoo in Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast.
The conductor was rushed to Nambour Hospital with puncture wounds and deep scratches after the tiger ‘hit his paw’.
Dangerous: In 2013, a 114-kg Bengal tiger named Charlie became ‘over-excited’ and bit Australia Zoo handler Dave Styles (pictured) on the neck and shoulder during a tiger show
Incidents: Australia Zoo keeper Che Woolcott (pictured) suffered puncture wounds to his arms after being torn apart by a Sumatran tiger named Raun in January 2016
Despite the incidents, the children of Steve Irwin, Bindi, 21, and Robert, 16, have remained unharmed while continuing to care for the tigers at Australia Zoo.
They often share updates from Australia Zoo tigers on their social media platforms, raise awareness of the endangered animals, and cuddle tiger cubs.
“Looking back at the time when our tiger cubs were so small and so incredibly soft,” Bindi gushed along with a video that starred a cub in July 2016.
Other places to see tigers and lions in Australia include Taronga Zoo Sydney, Canberra’s National Zoo and Darling Downs Zoo in Queensland.
Wildlife Warriors: Despite the incidents, the children of Steve Irwin, Bindi, 21 and Robert (pictured), 16, have survived as they continue to care for the tigers at Australia Zoo
Activists: Bindi (pictured) and Robert often share updates of Australia Zoo tigers on social media, raise awareness of the endangered animals, and cuddle tiger cubs
Netflix’s Tiger King was viewed by 34.4 million people worldwide in its first ten days after its March 2020 release, according to data from Nielsen.
It tells the story of Joe Exotic, who gets out of hand amid a cast of eccentric characters in the story of assassinations from the underworld of big cat breeding.
Central to the series is Joe’s rivalry with animal rights activist Carole Baskin, accused by Joe of murdering her missing multi-millionaire husband Don Lewis.
Don went missing in 1997 and despite being declared dead, no body has ever been found. Carole denied Joe’s unfounded allegations in the bizarre documentary.
Viral: Netflix’s Tiger King was watched by 34.4 million people worldwide in the first 10 days following its March 2020 release. Pictured: Tiger King star Carole Baskin