The #BlackfishEffect Gets Some Tiger (King) Stripes…

Tiger King ain’t Blackfish in terms of inspiring audience activism. But thanks to Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and the ALDF, celebrities are petitioning Congress for protections for big cats:

The reaction has not been the same for “Tiger King,” the Netflix docuseries about exotic cats displayed at roadside zoos. While the show has been wildly popular — the streaming company said that 34 million U.S. viewers watched it during its first 10 days of release — the majority of fans seem more interested in its eccentric human characters than its animal stars.

Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the director of “Blackfish,” would like to change that. So, along with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, she has authored a petition to Congress in support of a federal bill called the Big Cat Public Safety Act. The petition — which has been signed by celebrities like Joaquin Phoenix, Glenn Close, Olivia Wilde and Sarah Silverman — calls for an end to the private ownership of big cats and cub petting.

“Once a documentary scores a passionate audience that has stumbled into this world they didn’t know about, you can pivot and give them a meaningful place to land,” said Cowperthwaite, who began thinking of how to get involved after an April 9 New York Times article declared “‘Tiger King’ Is Not ‘Blackfish’ for Big Cats.” “It’s not too late. The film snagged people’s attention. Now it’s about capitalizing on the passion and giving it an outlet, which I’m not sure is clear right now.”

Warms my heart. Go Gabriela…

“Tiger King Is Not Blackfish”

It’s the tiger you should care about.

This is why I have resolutely avoided the series and the ensuing “Tiger King” craze. I didn’t care if it was Blackfish. But I did care if it put the plight of the animals at the heart of the story. And it doesn’t:

Many of the interview subjects featured in “Tiger King” say the story was presented to them as one that would expose the problem of private big cat ownership in this country, following in the tradition of many conservation-themed documentaries. Some in the film even say Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, the show’s co-directors and co-producers, claimed to be making the big cat version of “Blackfish,” the award-winning 2013 documentary that spurred widespread backlash against SeaWorld.

“Tiger King,” however, “is not the ‘Blackfish’ of the big cat world,” said Manny Oteyza, the producer of “Blackfish.”

Instead, big cats and the issues affecting them are completely lost in the show’s “soap opera-esque drama,” Dr. Nasser said.

Film-makers make lots of artistic and subjective choices. But when truth and compassion get abandoned in the effort to amp up the entertainment, then that is a deal-breaker.

I don’t see any real outcry about roadside zoos keeping exotic animals. I do see lots of attention being paid to Joe Exotic, and whether Trump should pardon him. What more do you need to know about the impact of the series?

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