Canada is just as exotic! Tiger King on Netflix might have put the world of animal breeding on the map, but Canada had it’s very own Joe Exotic before all the hype. Al Oeming, also known as Noah of the North, spent years touring the country alongside his Cheetah in order to raise awareness over endangered species.
If you have yet to watch the Netflix documentary, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, it follows the corrupt world of exotic zoo owners in the US. It depicts the shocking twists including murder, lawsuits and cults that these breeders lived and are living through.
Although there’s no evidence suggesting Oeming’s journey was as chaotic as those in the documentary, some would say his life was interesting, nonetheless.
According to IMDb, Oeming was born in Edmonton, Alberta back in 1925. CBC News reports that the Canadian went on to study zoology at the University of Alberta after serving in World War II. Despite his degree, he went on to become a professional wrestler until 1959 when he bought a farm in Alberta.
According to CBC News, in an attempt to keep his exotic animal breeding program on its feet, he travelled Canada with his cheetah Tawana. He visited local malls and schools in order to raise awareness of endangered species and how to save them.
He was even featured in shows like Wild Kingdom, landing himself a documentary with CBC called Al Oeming: Man of the North.
Lisa Grills spoke to CBC about her memory of the first time she met Oeming saying she spotted him along with Tawana in the parking lot of the store she worked at.
She then spent her shift “scratching her [Tawana] behind the ears.”
In an obituary written after Oeming’s passing in 2014, the Edmonton Sun described how his work with exotic species evolved over the years.
When the laws involving the requirements for breeding animals began to change in Canada, he built both a gorilla enclosure and a polar bear enclosure in an attempt to keep the number of visitors high.
However, in the ‘90s, he was eventually forced to stick to only cold-weather animals.
The Edmonton Sun reports he spent the last years of his life working on a resort with his son that would help raise money for a nature conservancy in Alberta.
If you already finished Tiger King, you can check out photos of Al Oeming in action over the years here.