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Tiger King Netflix documentary featuring Joe Exotic and Big Cat Rescue has nothing to do with us, says Kent-based The Big Cat Sanctuary

A wildlife park in Kent has denied any affiliation with the controversial Big Cat Rescue which features on new Netflix documentary Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.

Perhaps due to its similar sounding name, The Big Cat Sanctuary, based in Smarden, near Ashford, has received many questions from members of the public asking if it is connected to Big Cat Rescue, which is located in Tampa, Florida.

KMTV reports on the story

The American sanctuary is run by Carole Baskin, who features heavily in the Tiger King series which has taken Netflix by storm and focuses on divisive figure Joe Exotic, who ran the G.W Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma.

Carole and mullet-donning Joe have a long-running feud which started when she accused him of mistreatment of his animals and ended with Joe in prison following a murder for hire plot against Carole.

The seven part documentary launched on March 20, and within the first 10 days had been watched by more than 30 million people.

As well as the feud between Carole and Joe, the series explores Joe's campaign for office, including running to be President of the United States, the disappearance of Carole's husband, who some believe was fed to her tigers and the controversy over allowing people to pet baby tigers.

And now, Kent's The Big Cat Sanctuary wants to let its visitors and supporters know that it is in no way linked to Carole's sanctuary, or the documentary at all and took to Facebook to distance itself from it.

Joe Exotic is the main focus of new show Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness
Joe Exotic is the main focus of new show Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness

It comes after people were contacting the sanctuary asking to speak to people from the documentary.

And staff say it is important for them not to be confused with Big Cat Rescue.

The Facebook post reads: "The Big Cat Sanctuary, based in Kent (United Kingdom), is not affiliated with Big Cat Rescue or the ‘Tiger King’ documentary that is being shown on Netflix.

"As such, we will not be making any comments regarding ‘Tiger King’ or Big Cat Rescue at this point in time."

The Big Cat Sanctuary has four pillars of ethos - care, conservation, education and breeding.

And in the Facebook post, which has been shared more than 200 times, it also addressed how the sanctuary is run and assured that its animals receive the 'best possible' care.

It continued: "However, this attention on the Netflix show has stirred questions regarding the cats being housed at The Big Cat Sanctuary.

"We’d like to take this opportunity to address this concern that has been communicated to us over the last few weeks.

Lion Kasanga is one of 50 animals at Smarden's The Big Cat Sanctuary. Picture: Alma Leaper
Lion Kasanga is one of 50 animals at Smarden's The Big Cat Sanctuary. Picture: Alma Leaper

"The cats at our Sanctuary are with us for a variety of reasons, either as part of the coordinated breeding programmes, rescued or cats needing homes who act as ambassadors for their cousins in the wild and, in turn, supporting wildlife conservation.

"We strive to provide the best possible lives in captivity for all our cats.

"In an ideal world, keeping animals in sanctuaries and zoos would not be necessary.

"Sadly, we are not in an ideal world and without conservation organisations working to protect these magnificent animals, they could very tragically disappear from our planet.

"The Sanctuary holds a full zoo licence; it is a member and regulated by BIAZA and EAZA.

Snow leopard cubs at the Kent sanctuary. Picture: Alma Leaper
Snow leopard cubs at the Kent sanctuary. Picture: Alma Leaper

"This means our standards of animal care, environment and husbandry are regulated, and we are very proud to have contributed to the breeding programmes with various endangered species of cat including the world’s most endangered Amur leopard."

The Big Cat Sanctuary has in excess of 50 cats including African lions, White lions, Amur leopards, North Chinese leopards, Snow leopards, Amur tigers, Sumatran tigers, Cheetah, Lynx, Fishing cats, Jaguars, Pallas cats, Pumas, Rusty Spotted cats, Jungle cats and Servals.

It opened in 2000 and became a charity in 2004.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak and like many other animal parks across the county, it has been closed since March 21 until further notice.

To support The Big Cat Sanctuary during its closure, visit here.

Escaped animals, unusual finds and news from the RSPCA can all be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Ashford

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