OKLAHOMA – GW Zoo Manager John Reinke is best remembered for being the most level-headed among the literal circus of characters in Tiger King. Therefore, his perspective around the 2nd and 3rd seasons was essential. Once again, critics do not understand Tiger King’s appeal, slamming the new season with a 35 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating. The public remains enamored, rating 83 percent positive on Google Reviews.
In this second installment of an exclusive interview with John (First was on Jan 7, 2022), we discussed specific details on Reinke’s perspective on the events highlighted by the Tiger King documentary, especially in Season 2 and the spin-off Netflix series on Doc Antle, Tiger King: The Doc Antle Story.
Season 2 depicted the latest round of events, as Carole Baskin’s efforts to shut down various private zoos like Tim Stark’s in Indiana and Jeff Lowe at GW, were well documented, creating a realignment of loyalties. Former Joe Exotic nemeses Jeff Lowe and Allen Glover, who’s testimonies and wiretapping put Joe in prison, are now backtracking and are supporting Joe’s release. On January 28th, at 10 AM, there will be a resentencing hearing for Joe Exotic, Reinke revealed.
John has been consistent from the start on what’s right and wrong, with the ability to see the big picture. This prevented him from getting dragged into Jeff Lowe’s mess with the Feds, as Lowe worked to get Joe in jail so he could have full control of the successful GW Zoo. In a previous installment, we covered what John is seeing with government overreach, which resulted from the events. In this installment, we hear John’s perspective on the latest developments.
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Jeff and Lauren Taking Over GW Zoo, The Fight That Made John Leave
“When they first showed up, [it was clear they were] trying to take over. They went to Vegas, got in trouble, and went back and forth. I dealt with them. I put up with them. They came back with a vengeance and a motive of letting everybody know [the zoo] was theirs and they were taking over. Every day got ugly. The very last day I was there, Jeff Lowe and Dillon Passage fought in the back parking lot in the gravel for 15, 20 minutes, hard. Lauren and I were there. Lauren kept trying to get a kick in every now and then. I said ‘look, leave them alone. These two grown men, let them fight it out’. And when they finally were out, I just broke it up and made Dillon go to the house. I just said, ‘I’m 50 years old. I’m too old for this. I’m not gonna put up with this and I was done’. Joe wasn’t able to [discern the danger]. He was enticed by the show. The Vegas. The ‘more money than God’, a quote from Jeff Lowe. Joe is more arrogant than the Joe that came out on the show. His persona is more highly defined. He’s very boisterous, loud, in the front and center. They toned him down quite a bit, actually, in my opinion.”
On Those Who Betrayed Joe
“Let’s expand on that, all of them. Jeff Lowe tried to get to me and said, ‘I can save your pinky. I can save you. All you gotta do is just talk’. [My response was], ‘what are you saving me from? I didn’t do anything wrong’. He threatened John Findlay, [telling him] how much trouble he was going to be in, that he’s going to jail. He told Eric Cowie he should have gone to jail for letting animals starve to death and not letting somebody help. So Eric and Jeff Lowe told me one day, ‘you must have drank too much KoolAid from Joe’. Well, they drank too much KoolAid from Jeff Lowe. They let Jeff Lowe con them and scare them. So that’s why they turned on Joe bad. I’m sure of it. It just never affected me. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
On Jeff Lowe Now Helping Joe’s Release
“The pot calling the kettle black. When it happened to him, he thought, ‘holy crap, they came in and took all my animals’. First of all, he wouldn’t take care of them. So it’s probably the best thing that happened to him. But it’s the fact that they just took his animals. It [finally] happened to them so they said, ‘We got to do something about this. This isn’t right’. Talk about a complete spin. I mean, they fessed up videos and recordings from the Feds. They gave all kinds of evidence up. I have always said, If Jeff Lowe is close enough for you to hear him, he’s recording you. And he said it: he recorded the Feds and all their text messages, verbally, video, everything.”
Joe Didn’t Blow Up His Studio
“Joe was out of town. But there’s a lot of myths out there saying Joe did it. Why would he blow up $250,000 worth of equipment when we didn’t have insurance on it? I’m pretty sure Joe did not do it. I think Rick Kirkham did it. And I think Carol had something to do with it. When that all happened, there was a safe missing with hard drives and that was not found in the fire. It was all about who owned all that footage that they were filming. I remember Joe having every one of the guys sign a paper saying nothing leaves that park because it belongs to him. I remember that they had contracts. That safe is still missing. But now, some of this stuff has come up in Carol’s hands.”
On Joe’s Newfound Fame After Prison & His Singing
“This is exactly what Joe wanted in his life. He wanted to be famous. And I’ve always said even at the zoo, ‘Joe is his biggest fan’. When asked about John Findlay’s claims that Joe wasn’t the singer on his albums and music videos, Reinke confirmed. “They had a singer out of California doing that. It was all Milli Vanilli. We went to the studio one day in Dallas, and I said, ‘I want to track you singing this song. Maybe you can sing. Let’s try it’. Yeah, that didn’t work.”
Optimism About Joe’s Release – January 28th Is The Resentencing Hearing in OKC
“Yeah. I’m pretty optimistic because I think they’re going to try and cover it up as much as they can. I mean, they don’t want it out there. But Joe does have a resentencing hearing the 28th of this month, in Oklahoma City. At the federal court because the same judge that put him in jail has to hear this resentencing. Joe did some things wrong. He did sell some tigers. But I don’t care who you are. If you have breeding tigers and they’re having babies, you’re selling them. You’re not going to give away something that’s worth $5,000. It’s not gonna happen. I don’t care who you are. I told the Feds that. I told him I said I don’t care who they are. They’re selling cubs. Carole is selling cubs. But he did do that wrong. It was illegal. It was misdemeanors. Not 22 years. He’s been there about three years now.”
On America Rooting For Joe and Carol’s Part in Keeping Him in Jail
“I think [America is rooting for Joe] too. You know, we really thought Trump was going to pardon him, and we were 150% sure it was going to happen. I’m 150% sure that Carol paid to keep him there. Because it’s all about money. You don’t just get pardoned because you’re a good guy. You get pardoned because somebody donated money. And that’s how it happens. [Conversely] I’m pretty sure Carole paid to keep him in there.”
Criminal Justice Reform Is Needed In America
“Murderers out there don’t get 22 years. It is a real touchy situation, because it’s not just Joe. There’s other people. I mean, there’s people recently that just got exonerated because they were innocent. It takes today’s technological DNA to prove them innocent, to get them out after they’ve been in there for 20 years. The criminal justice system is a mess and I think everybody knows it. Everybody knows there’s a lot of innocent people in jail for a whole lot less. There’s people sitting in jail for 90 years for weed. Where are all these fentanyl people at? Why are they not sitting in jail? Fentanyl is killing more people than COVID is right now. But nobody talks about that.”
Feds Prevented Joe From Getting John’s Support
“The first ones to talk to me were Joe’s attorneys. Right here because I was actually babysitting cats when they came to talk to me. And they didn’t talk to me for more than an hour and a half. They didn’t ask the right questions. I asked them, ‘y’all don’t have enough paperwork’. Y’all know how big this is? And they looked at me and they told me, ‘we have other people we have to take care of, not just Joe’. And I knew right then he was screwed.’
So then the prosecution got a hold of me and I wouldn’t talk to the FBI. They were going to subpoena me. They gave me a subpoena right after I got done talking to them in a little room. They handed me that subpoena so I couldn’t go to the trial to watch until after I got on the stand.
Carole could go and she stayed for the whole thing, which was wrong. Three days before the trial was over, they dismissed me and said, ‘We’re not going to need you’. You’re not going to need me, the number one guy for 14 years? The prosecution, the ones that called me, [didn’t need me now]. We weren’t going to work in their favor. ‘We got this. It’s already done’. I thought, ‘holy crap, you’re that confident’. I said, ‘so am I allowed to go to the trial now?’ They said, ‘Yep, you’re allowed to go to trial’. I went the very next day. They were convinced that they had a conviction. They were confident that [Joe] was done.”
On Carole Baskin Taking Everyone Down
“It’s not the first time. Carole is exempt from most of the laws that are in right now. She came up with this Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, which is just the AZA. All these sanctioning bodies say that the zoos have to have [certain requirements] now. Carole, for some reason, wants to be the only one in control of big cats in the United States. And she’s making it happen. She’s taking everybody down. Kathy Stearns in Florida, Robert Engesser, he doesn’t do it anymore. Tim Stark’s gone. Jeff Lowe’s gone. They’re going after Doc Antle right now, and there’s more people on her list. In her documentary, there is a dry erase board that’s got Tim Starks, Doc Antle, on there. And there’s names that they blur out. So they’re going to come out with more episodes because they’re going after somebody else.”
On Carole Owning GW: How It Affects John and Joe
“I think it sucks. I’ve watched the park. You know, when I left the park, everybody’s social media showed me pictures of all the animals that were dying, looking sick. I had an amazing Zoo when I was there. I took care of that place. I wanted to make sure it was the nicest zoo. And it was. To see it all crumbled down, it just kills your spirit. It just crushes you. Joe had more invested than I did, I promise you. It’s crushing to him too. But Joe’s been in jail. Both his parents have died. His niece turned on him. But his niece was turning on him before he went in there. Joe doesn’t have a family anymore. The ones that loved him are gone. We’ll see if he knows me when he gets out. I don’t know. Joe’s Joe and Joe will always be Joe. I never got a thank you from that man. The 14 years I was there, he never said thank you.”
On Spinoff Season Digging At South Carolina Wildlife Sanctuary Operator Doc Antle
“It was definitely a dig at Doc Antle. I’ve been to Doc’s place and seen it. His place is amazing. I don’t care what anybody says. I’ve been to Carol’s place. It’s not amazing. She has nothing to brag about. Doc has everything to brag about. He has an amazing compound and puts on an amazing show. You get to interact with cubs, and that’s what they hate. So they are distinctively motivated towards crushing Doc Antle in the show. And they dug every piece of dirt and just expanded on it.
This is my opinion. If you think you were sexually abused or taken advantage of 30 years ago, why did you not say something then? Why are you waiting until now to be famous, and I think that’s wrong. Say something then. There are even parents on this documentary saying, ‘we just let it go’. Well, you shouldn’t have just let it go. You should have said something.
With that said Doc Antle has a different religion and has a different lifestyle. Everybody knows that. And all his wives or girlfriends, whatever they are, are okay with that. Does that make you Doc a bad guy? No. He’s an awesome guy. And I loved his facility. I’m not gonna lie. I loved it. But he has his ways, and they don’t like it. So they’re going to take him down.”
On The Big Cat Safety Act & How Dangerous It Is To Animals
“It talks about big cats and they use the Big Cat Safety Act as a fishing ploy. People, it’s not about big cats. It’s about your cats, dogs, horses, cows. They’re going after all this stuff you’re not going to have, mark my words, in seven years. You’re not gonna be allowed to have a dog in your house. It may happen faster than that. That’s scary. I believe in California right now, you can’t buy a purebred dog. In Texas, a couple of us called our senators and got it stopped. But I believe it’s in Oklahoma right now. They’re trying to push it through to where you can’t buy a purebred dog in your state. You have to go to the shelter. Well, I’m good with that. Go to the shelter. But when you go to the shelter, your dog or cat is spayed or neutered. So when they die off, how do you replace them? They will be gone. And that’s their motivation. It is not just for big cats. It’s called the Big Cat Safety Act, but it is not.”
On Calling Representatives: Just Read The Bill
“Call your representatives, call them all. I don’t care if it’s Democrat, Republican, Independent, Call them and make them read the Big Cat Safety Act. Carol just left Washington DC pushing this Big Cat Safety Act. And I promise you they didn’t read it. They listened to her and she pushed her agenda. Her agenda is she will be the only one in control of big cats in the United States. And they will not be viewed personally, they will be on the computer screen. We’re going to be virtual.”
Watch Out For John’s Book & His Inspirational Story Walking On Prosthetic Legs
“I’m actually in the process of writing a book. I’m going to talk about everything: my youth, my love for animals, what I have learned from being at the zoo, what I’ve learned from my prosthetics, my zip line accident when I was 24. Ultimately, I was paralyzed, and couldn’t feel anything from the waist down and they told me I had to stay in a wheelchair and I hated that wheelchair. I had feet, then they put my feet back together and wouldn’t cut them off. I learned how to move a big toe. I went to Dallas Rehab Institute and learned how to walk in water with parallel bars and mirrors. I was supposed to do it three hours a day and I did it nine hours a day. Because I wouldn’t stay in it for six months. There were people there that needed their help. They didn’t need to be messing with me. There were some sick people down there that needed help. And I wanted them to concentrate on that. So I took a eight week course and did it in four weeks. I came out of there walking and ultimately, that ended up giving me a bone infection where I had to have my feet cut off. So I had one cut off. And then I found the zoo. I was doing good when I first started at the zoo. I had one real leg. And then while I was there on July 4, my other foot got infected and I got sick. So I went to the hospital and got [the other leg] cut off. I want to talk about everything and how it happened. My will to live and why my will to live is so high, I want to talk about all that stuff.”