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WNIJ Perspectives
Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: Claws Out!

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Javier Verues-Ortega
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Unsplash

Hey, all you cool cats and kittens!

This is not Carol Baskin. It's Lynnea from Safe Passage. Have you hopped on the craze that is sweeping the nation? Have you fallen prey to the Tiger King? There's a lot of things to love in this series. The wacky hijinks of a gun-toting, sequin-wearing music video star and private zookeeper are just the ticket when you might be getting cabin fever in your home.

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But while we were all distracted by the complicated rivalry between Joe Exotic and The Big Cat Rescue, we missed a lot. Namely, we missed the abuse. For a documentary on private zoo owners, the unhappy and unsafe lives these animals were forced into was largely glossed over. Even more, the abuse the people faced hardly got a mention.

Doc Antle was accused of building a coercive sexual relationship with the underage girls who came to work at his zoo. Joe Exotic was known to use drugs and gifts to lure and keep his husbands with him. Carol's history of being abused and assaulted starting at age 14 has been lost in the frenzied debate of if she fed her second husband to the tigers.

Y'all, this couldn't get any wackier. But we can't get too distracted by the claws and gore of the Tiger King. Too many people all around us experience abuse and don't know where to turn. We can't ignore this on our Netflix or in our community. It's on all of us to speak up and speak out and make sure survivors in our lives know that they are not alone.

I'm Lynnea Erickson Laskowski, and that's my perspective.

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