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The Biggest Unanswered Questions From Tiger King Season 2

This week, Netflix's pandemic time-passing series of money, murder, and mullets returns in "Tiger King 2." Joe Exotic is back (on the phone, at least) along with his other competing wildlife park owners, many of whom are still sinking their claws into one another to stay on top — and out of prison. Back on the streaming service with only five episodes (as opposed to the first season's seven), "Tiger King 2" still has enough jaw-dropping moments to remind you that the world of big cats and big cat exhibition takes exactly no prisoners (except for those who are imprisoned).

Highlighting just how much the initial documentary impacted the planet, everything from obsessed fans on TikTok to Joe's request for a pardon from the former President gets highlighted in the initial episode, proving that the world really did go mad at one point last year. From there, it's a dense jungle of criminal plots, missing persons, and chicken-obsessed psychics (we're not kidding). Even then, there are some significant questions left by "Tiger King 2" that are still haunting our imaginations — questions that have yet to be answered. 

What happened to Erik Cowie?

For the second season of "Tiger King," the show ends with a dedication to Erik Cowie, who is only briefly in the show's return. A former employee of Joe Exotic's wildlife park, Cowie tragically died around the same time the second season was announced, as reported by Variety.

Found dead in Brooklyn on September 3, the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner confirmed that Cowie had died of acute and chronic alcohol use. Briefly highlighted in the first season, Cowie had struggled with alcohol in his life but dedicated what time he could to animals in the park. During Joe's trial, he testified against his former boss, admitting in court that he had seen the self-proclaimed Tiger King killing animals at the park.

The experience had a lasting impact on Cowie, as revealed in the Netflix special that followed the first series, "The Tiger King and I." Speaking on the show, Cowie explained, "A lot of times when we put cats down. They used me because just by my appearance or my voice, I could get a cat up the side of a cage, where we can dart it and tranquilize it so they could be put down and stuff," Cowie admitted. "You know, those cats trusted me up until the end, and somehow, sometimes, I swear they're like, 'Dude, you let me down' kinda thing. I could see it in their face and their eyes."

What's the truth about Don Lewis?

Although she's absent from "Tiger King 2" and currently attempting to sue Netflix, Carole Baskin is still a topic of conversation — particularly regarding her ex (and presumed dead) husband, Don Lewis. Following his disappearance in August 1997, the case of Lewis' whereabouts remains unsolved. Exotic notoriously theorized in the first "Tiger King" that Baskin was responsible for his disappearance, and may have even fed Don to her tigers. Incredibly, recent developments may be even more shocking than those claims.

"Tiger King 2" revealed updates in the investigation suggesting that Lewis may not even be dead, and in fact, may be living out a new life in Costa Rica. One particular episode shows a close-up of a federal document, stating that Lewis had loaned money to various people and could be residing in the Central American nation indefinitely. For fans of the show, it's an undoubtedly shocking revelation.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office will hold a news conference regarding Don Lewis' disappearance to follow the premiere of "Tiger King 2." Corporal Moises Garcia, lead investigator on the case, will be in attendance to answer questions, which might provide even more info on one of the series' most enduring mysteries.

Where is Doc Antle?

Of the many colorful characters we were introduced to in the debut season of "Tiger King," one that stood out was competing safari owner Bhagavan Antle, aka Doc. The man with a wild collection of animals and at least four wives ran the Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina, and should have earned himself top billing alongside Baskin and Exotic. Unfortunately, Doc made it known that he was among the many subjects of "Tiger King" displeased with the final product.

Writing on his blog Doc Antle's Tiger Tales, he described the show following its release as a "quasi-fictional drama, more interested in shock value and titillation than fact." Although understandably absent from this season as a result, Doc is still dealing with his own off-screen problems. According to the New York Times, Antle was indicted in October 2020 for charges of felony wildlife trafficking and misdemeanor animal cruelty. Myrtle Beach Safari is still open, but Antle is awaiting his trial date, which is set for July 2022.

Could Joe Exotic be released from prison after all?

And then there's Joe Exotic — the sequel series' most notable absence. At the time of filming, Joe was into the second year of his 22-year prison sentence, with chances of an early release growing slimmer by the day. However, "Tiger King 2" ends with Jim Lowe signing an affidavit retracting his statement on Exotic's plot to kill Carole. Ending the show on somewhat of a cliffhanger with a potential retrial on the way, it now appears that something else could lead to an early release for Joe, albeit at a tragic cost.

On November 4 (via BBC), it was revealed that Joe had been diagnosed with prostate cancer that had reached an "aggressive" stage. With this under consideration, his lawyer John M. Phillips explained that a push was being made to get the retrial arranged sooner so that Joe could "enjoy what life [he has] left with [his] loved ones." 

Phillips told the BBC, "He needs freedom by so many definitions."