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“Tiger King” and Drug Use

“Tiger King” and Drug Use

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.

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
“Tiger King” and Drug Use
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