“Tiger King” and Drug Use | Banyan Treatment Center

“Tiger King” and Drug Use

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SPOILER ALERT If you haven’t watched the show or aren’t caught up, do not continue to read this. If you have a loved one struggling or you yourself are struggling with addiction, please call 888-966-9413

The docu-series titled, Tiger King is the newest Netflix show to binge watch during the coronavirus quarantine.  The show is a wild rollercoaster ride. It involves an Oklahoma zoo owner named Joe Exotic who is in a fight with another cat sanctuary in Florida and then gets involved in a murder-for hire plot. Throughout the series, viewers encounter some big twists and turns, but there are a few Tiger King cast members with drug backgrounds.

Mario Tabraue

One person we meet is Mario Tabraue. He is a zookeeper from Miami who ran a drug ring back in 1976 with his father. Mario Tabraue and his father would smuggle cocaine and marijuana into the United States. Mario ended up with a drug network worth $75 million. He would use snakes to smuggle drugs by putting the drugs inside the snakes! In 1987, Mario Tabraue was arrested on narcotic and racketeering charges. Though Mario was sentenced to 100 years in prison, he only served 12 and returned to working in the zoology industry.

Travis Maldonado

We also were introduced to Travis Maldonado, the then 19-year-old who came to Oklahoma from California to work at the exotic zoo in 2013. He had a history of marijuana and meth addiction, and another zoo member had recommended he come work for the zoo to help curb his drug addiction. Unfortunately, Travis passed away due to accidentally shooting himself.

Rick Kirkham

Rick Kirkham was the reality TV producer who was hired to film Joe Exotic’s reality show. He got his start as a crime reporter in Las Vegas and soon after that, Kirkham started to use crack cocaine. Rick Kirkham’s drug use got to a point where he was high while interviewing then president, George H.W. Bush. He finally checked into a drug treatment facility after he got married and before the birth of his first child, but his career and personal life suffered tremendously when he started using cocaine again. He was fired from Inside Edition and got a divorce. Rick did end up achieving sobriety and even went on to speak publicly on his drug use and becoming an advocate for sobriety.

Not only were exotic animals and the rivalry apparent, but so was drug use in Tiger King. It’s great that these cast members were open about their drug use. Continuing to talk about your addiction struggles makes drug use and drug addiction less taboo.




There is such thing as success in recovery. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, there is help! Call 888-966-9413 for more information on our different types of addiction treatment programs.


 
Ilana
Ilana
Ilana was born in Valhalla, New York and lived the first 11 years of her life in New Rochelle, NY before relocating to Boca Raton, FL. While she’s not in recovery, being in the addiction field, currently, has opened her eyes and her mind to addiction and truly see why this field is so important. Ilana received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication studies from Florida Gulf Coast University and has a background in social media with experience in writing. As the social media specialist here at Banyan, she’s passionate about what she does because it allows her to experience what goes on behind the scenes in social media and being able to connect with others. Her favorite part of her job is knowing that in some way, she’s giving others the platform to reach out to get help for their own struggles.


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