Beginning with the premise that the media participates in the manufacturing of the societal consent that enables and perpetuates the systematized exploitation of nonhuman animals, this article explores how media coverage of such nonhuman animals (and of wildlife in particular) during the COVID-19 crisis may influence our consumption of popular entertainment in a way that centralizes the discussion on the implications of established speciesist practices. I specifically focus on the impact of the first season of Netflix’s successful docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness
, directed by Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin, which was released in March 2020, a key moment in the worldwide management of the pandemic. Tiger King
has generated significant controversy because of its languid commitment to a solid conservationist message and to the paradigm of animal advocacy documentaries. However, understanding how and why nonhuman animals were considered newsworthy by COVID-19 media provides us with some interpretative keys through which to reapproach the significance of the show. Analyzing the series’ main themes and motifs in light of the media’s narratives on lockdown, wildlife, and human interference over nature allows us to continue exploring methodologies through which to question the multiple anthropocentric discourses that structure and order societal consent to the existence of zoos.
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