‘Ghost Adventures: Horror at Joe Exotic Zoo’: ‘The Evidence Will Blow You Away’
Nothing says Happy Halloween like Travel Channel’s Ghostober III. This year, its slate of paranormal programs includes a trip to Joe Exotic Zoo — yes, the one from the scary Netflix documentary series Tiger King.
The two-hour special Ghost Adventures: Horror at Joe Exotic Zoo sees the beloved boo crew Zak Bagans, Jay Wasley, Billy Tolley and Aaron Goodwin set up shop at the Greater Wynnewood Animal Park in Oklahoma. Included in the show are exclusive interviews with Jeff and Lauren Lowe, who purchased the property from Exotic in 2016.
The Ghost crew hear the rumors and stories of what unfolded on the grounds. Everything from allegations of murder to the possibility that the spirit of Travis Maldonado, who accidently killed himself with a firearm, was still present. The crew also gather more background from Tiger King’s familiar faces, including Erik Cowie and Allen Glover. For such an expansive and involved perimeter, engineer Bill Chappell was called in to conduct the biggest audio experiment he’s ever performed for an investigation.
Here, Goodwin tells us what he witnessed.
Where did the idea to investigate the zoo come from?
Aaron Goodwin: Jeff mentioned he was getting rid of the property to Carole [Baskin]. He added the line, “And the ghosts that come with it.” Zak saw that on TMZ or somewhere and immediately thought about it. We contacted them and made it happen.
How much of a Tiger King fan were you before this experience?
I think I started watching it at 10 at night and couldn’t stop watching it until six in the morning. I remember going to bed thinking, so satisfying. I was a huge fan of it. I watched it three times before we went. The whole thing was like, What? It was amazing. Then to meet some of the guys from it. Unreal. I was actually standing next to Erik and Allen and Jeff. It was crazy. They were really nice guys. I was expecting more of an attitude or something like that. Erik was the nicest guy ever. Even Allen was cool, a fun guy to be around. There was never any threat or scariness from them. Jeff was a pretty nice guy.
How did they help give background to the investigation?
We didn’t talk too much about Tiger King the show. We were there talking about ghosts and spirits of the property. The information they were telling us about the experiences they had was a whole different show itself. I’m pretty sure they were on board from the beginning.
What can you tell us about the logistics and what those filming days were like? What stood out to you?
The land is cursed. It has this cursed vibe to it. There are so many spirits running around there. They even have pictures of an apparition with their hands out above one of the sheds. They’ve seen glowing lights. There are so many stories of that land when they owned it.
What were some of the main challenges you faced?
We were there for a whole week. We’re from Vegas, so we’re used to dry heat. Here it was humid and stormy. We were walking around wet and sweated. This was also the first time filming outside with COVID. We were worried about that, but as soon as we stepped on to the land everything changed. You can sense the energy, this weird sadness and oppression there. We started filming and doing interviews for a few days. We got to go through Joe Exotic’s house that got raided by the cops. I think it was the second or third day we brought cadaver dogs out to sniff around and see if there were human remains on the property. There were a couple of possible hits. Then everything got shut down because the cops had to show up and search the place. They found nothing. Then we brought the cadaver dogs back in, and they had more possible hits. That was interesting.
We did two nights of investigation. The first night we went through Joe Exotic’s old place and found amazing evidence. We went to the place Travis accidentally shot himself. We got these amazing spikes on an EMF meter. Then we went into Joe Exotic’s house and wanted to communicate with the energies and the spirits that they claim to see. It just became a whole communication of Travis the whole time. The evidence will blow you away. It’s going from one moment to the next with it all explaining something that, put together, we know is Travis. That was unreal. Erik said he saw Travis sitting in his trailer for two minutes on his couch. Allen has seen him around the property. Everyone had experiences with Travis. I believe animals have an aura, a soul. All these tigers that were killed—it’s almost like all those energies from the tigers caused the negative reaction to the land. I’ve never done anything quite like this. It blew me away.
What did Bill’s part in the investigation entail?
This was the biggest thing he has ever done for an experiment. It was tubing all throughout the property. It’s basically a deep echo EVP experiment. These were tubes full of water and without water. He would put in sounds like what the human voice sounds like. We got some amazing EVPs out of it where there should be nothing there. It was incredible.
What did you walk away with from this particular investigation?
It’s a darker story of the zoo and everything with Tiger King. I couldn’t believe the evidence we got and what happened with all this stuff. I think the audience will be satisfied because they really get a different look at Tiger King’s story. They will walk away thinking that this place is haunted.
It has been fun watching you guys look back at prior episodes of the series with Ghost Adventures: Screaming Room. How has it been for the crew to look back?
If I’m watching the show, it’s like watching a nightmare I had to live through. I usually watch it and then don’t watch it anymore. I only want to experience it one more time when it airs, and then I don’t watch it again. Watching it with the guys in the Screaming Room is really tough. You go home and block it out. I try to paint or do something productive that keeps my mind off the last investigation. It’s really tough to sit there and relive the nightmare. The funny parts with the guys are absolutely great. We’re all brothers and bust each other’s balls and stuff. This is a great opportunity to get our reactions. It’s a good way for fans to learn more, and see what we had to go through by seeing it through our faces. Especially me. I’d often say, “Oh my God. That was the worst.” Or I can yell at Zak for sending me alone.
With this being Ghostober, do you have any Halloween traditions?
Living in Vegas, I’d like to put on a mask and walk the Strip with people and see all the costumes. Really, Halloween has become a tradition of staying at home and tweeting with the fans watching.
I’m sure you’re always thinking about what the next idea will be. I’m thinking there is so much speculation and talk about the Big Cat Rescue and what happened to Carole’s deceased husband, that would be a great follow-up.
We haven’t really talked about it. It’d be great to go there and check out the land and just meet her and find evidence of spirits. I doubt she would let that happen.
Is there anything left on your own Ghost Adventures investigative bucket list?
I can’t tell you what it is, but one on my bucket list we’re actually doing in a couple of weeks. We’re actually going there and filming. I’m so excited. This whole season we’ve been shooting so far—some of the best locations. Just wait. You’re going to love it.
Ghost Adventures: Horror at Joe Exotic Zoo, October 29, 9/8c, Travel Channel