Tiger King star Rick Kirkham wanted Joe Exotic to be "eaten" by his tigers.

The 61-year-old producer appeared in the Netflix docuseries "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness" after spending a year living with the eccentric zookeeper, whilst filming for a separate reality TV series which never made it to air.

Rick Kirkman is claiming Joe Exotic was terrified of the animals at his zoo. Photo / Netflix
Rick Kirkman is claiming Joe Exotic was terrified of the animals at his zoo. Photo / Netflix

And following the release of the Netflix series - which has proven to be an instant success - Rick has lifted the lid on what it was really like spending time with the former GW Zoo boss, including insisting Joe was "terrified" of the animals he kept in his zoo.

He said: "He was terrified of tigers. Terrified of them. The man was such a complicated person. He comes out in the Netflix show as being a very tough, rowdy, and – as he says - redneck gay cowboy. But the real Joe Exotic was a very weak and a very scared little man. He owned a bunch of tigers and a bunch of lions and an entire zoo, but he was very afraid of these animals."

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Rick previously claimed Joe had "shot at" him three times, and has now said he "hated" the titular Tiger King "95 per cent" of the time.

He added: "It never really got so close that we thought he was going to get eaten, but there were times we were really praying and wishing he would get eaten. Because he was just that kind of a character that you either loved or hated him. You loved him like 5 per cent, you hated him like 95 per cent.

"He had all those traits of a cult leader. He dragged you in and gave you just enough to love him and admire him and then he treated you like you were an animal, and he treated the animals better than he did the humans!"

The producer also accused Joe of being obsessed with fame, and believes it is "karma" that the zookeeper only became a household name after he was jailed for 22 years after being found guilty in 2019 for paying a man $US3000 to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin.

Speaking to Capital's Jimmy Hill ahead of his '#AskTigerRick' livestream Q&A yesterday, he said: "That's where the karma comes. Joe Exotic, all he wanted when I lived with him there in the zoo, the only thing he wanted in the world more than anything was to be world famous, and now he is world famous and he's sitting in a 6 x 9ft jail cell."