Tiger King: What does ‘Small Waco’ mean? What happened at Waco in Texas?

All seven episodes of Tiger King: Murder Mayhem and Madness are streaming on Netflix now. True crime fans have been hooked since the very first episode but before they can continue with the series, viewers are curious to know exactly what Joe Exotic was referring to when he said ‘small Waco.’ Express.co.uk has everything you need to know.

Joe Exotic did not remain quiet about his hatred for animal rights activist Carole Baskin, the founder of Big Cat Rescue.

Throughout the documentary, it is made clear that Exotic would do and say just about anything to protect his animals and his business.

One clip in the documentary sees Joe speaking live On CBS This Morning.
In the interview, Exotic said: “[My place] is a ticking time bomb. If somebody thinks they’re gonna walk in here and take my animals away, it is going to be a small Waco”.

In early 2019, Exotic was convicted for the murder-for-hire plot of Carole Baskin.

He was also found guilty on 17 charges of animal abuse. Exotic continues to maintain his innocence.

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The term ‘Small Waco’ is significant in Joe Exotic’s situation as he was referring to a devastating tragedy in US History.

When Exotic said the term ‘ small Waco’ he was referring to The Waco Siege of 1993 in Texas.

The Waco Siege was the siege of a compound belonging to the religious sect Branch Davidians by the American federal and Texas state law enforcement.

The US military was also involved in the siege, which took place between February 28 and April 19, 1993.

Self-proclaimed prophet David Koresh was the leader of The Branch Davidians, who were located at Mount Carmel Center ranch in the small community of Axtell, Texas.

The ranch was situated just 13 miles east-northeast of Waco, a central city in Texas.

The authorities suspected Branch Davidians of stockpiling illegal weapons and in late February, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) obtained a search warrant for the compound and arrest warrants for Koresh and a few other key members.

There were reports by the ATF that the religious community had close to 250 weapons, including revolvers, automatic rifles, shotguns and grenades.

Koresh had denied that he had any plans for a mass suicide that would mirror The Jonestown Massacre which gave birth to the expression ‘drinking the kool-aid.’

However, the American authorities were concerned that Koresh would lead his people towards mass suicide and intervened.

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When the ATF attempted to raid the ranch, they were met with violent resistance by approximately 80 to 100 Branch Davidians.

During the first attempt, four government agents and six Branch Davidians were killed after an intense gun battle.

The siege lasted a total of 51 days and in total 86 deaths occurred. Four of those deaths were the ATF Agents on the first day and throughout 51 days, 16 agents were wounded.

According to History.com, during the 51 days, negotiators had arranged for the release of 35 Branch Davidians, including 21 children. However, these negotiations fell through when the authorities launched a tear-gas assault on the compound on April 19.


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On April 19, the last day of the siege, 76 were killed in a fire which had engulfed Mount Carmel Centre.

In the blaze, 76 Branch Davidians were killed, including 20 children, two pregnant women and David Koresh.

Koresh, aged 33, was found with a gunshot wound to the head. It remains unknown whether he killed himself or somebody else pulled the trigger.

Tiger King is streaming on Netflix now

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