When Carole Baskin agreed to take part in Netflix’s Tiger King, she thought she was participating in a “Blackfish” style documentary that would expose the dangers of Joe Exotic and his GW Exotic Animal Park. But after the release of the docuseries, Baskin says the only thing fans are saying about her is that she killed her first husband, Jack “Don” Lewis.
Days before the docuseries hit Netflix, Baskin told The New York Post that she was “hoping the film raises awareness” about her rival and nemesis Joe Exotic and the illegal practices and harsh treatment of big cats and other exotic animals in captivity.
Since @netflix and #Covid19 #Quarantine has made #TigerKing all the rage, I figured it was a good time to ask for new leads. #CaroleBaskin #DonLewis #Netflix #Tiger #BigCatRescue #JoeExotic #TigerKingNetflix #HCSO pic.twitter.com/LHoJcBZVOI
— Chad Chronister (@ChadChronister) March 30, 2020
However, the series ended up focusing on the feud between Joe Exotic and Baskin, and his alleged plot to have the Big Cat Rescue founder murdered. The series also highlighted the fact that Baskin’s first husband mysteriously disappeared in 1997.
Social media has been going crazy with theories that Baskin killed her husband. And, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister has said that he is interested in taking another look at the 23-year-old cold case because of the questions raised in the docuseries.
Baskin says that she is victim in this entire situation because not only is she possibly being looked at as a murder suspect, but she has been receiving death threats.
These are scary times but if there’s one thing we can all agree on it’s that Carole Baskin definitely fed her husband to tigers.
— The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt) April 1, 2020
“He’s [Joe Exotic] been trying, since 2009, to get his minions to kill me,” said Baskin. “He was constantly going on his internet show, saying that he has to get rid of me. It was very disturbing. The kinds of people who back up what he does are not stable people. It would be one thing if he went out to mainstream America. But he was going out to a group of wack-jobs.”
For years, Baskin and Exotic were at odds in the world of big cats because she didn’t agree with his breeding practices and “pay to play” business model. On the other hand, Exotic constantly threatened Baskin for threatening his lucrative business.
Wow the amount of texts I’ve gotten about Tiger King since I tweeted about it all have mentioned their belief that Carol killed her husband! What are your thoughts? Do you think Carol killed him?
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) March 23, 2020
Baskin’s current husband, Howard, said in a recent YouTube video that the accusations against his wife have gotten out of hand. He noted that Kim Kardashian had asked her millions of Twitter followers if they think Carole killed her husband, and he added that they would welcome Kardashian for a visit if she was interested.
Don Lewis literally vanished “into thin air” two months after he attempted to get a domestic violence injunction against Baskin. His van was found at a local airport near the couple’s home in Tampa, Florida, but Lewis was never seen or heard from again. He was declared dead five years after his disappearance.
In Tiger King, they posited – based on the words of several people they interviewed – that Baskin could have possibly fed her ex-husband to the tigers. This was a theory voiced often by Exotic, who even made a video that featured a woman that resembled Baskin tossing meat to a cat. The series also noted that Baskin produced a will that read “in case of my death or disappearance” which gave her his multi-million dollar fortune.
Baskin calls the allegations “ludicrous,” and noted that tigers eat meat that is broken down into one-inch cubes before it goes into her meat grinder.
“The idea that a human body could be put through it is idiotic,” said Baskin.
However, Sheriff Chronister was apparently intrigued by the theory and tweeted on Monday: “Since @netflix and #Covid19 #Quarantine has made #TigerKing all the rage, I figured it was a good time to ask for new leads.”
“Joe Exotic locks tigers in cages. That’s just inhumane. Here at Big Cat Rescue, we rescue the tigers & keep them in cages until they die”
– Carole Baskin ……🤨❓#TigerKingNetflix #tigerking pic.twitter.com/mHNHNAQ8dL
— Emma (@Emmax_GB) March 31, 2020
Patrol Sergeant Thomas says that Baskin was originally a “person of interest” but they never charged her with a crime. The case is still considered to be a missing person case – not a homicide – because they have no body or any knowledge of where Don Lewis is.
As for Joe Exotic, he lost his zoo and was sentenced to 22 years in prison earlier this year after being found guilty of the murder-for-hire plot plus extra charges of selling big cats.
“Joe is a minor character in my world,” said Baskin. “I am always going after these people and they are always making threats to me. Joe was just one more guy.”
Tiger King is currently available for streaming on Netflix.