Carole Baskin is a person who works to protect the rights of animals. She runs the Big Cat Rescue animal sanctuary. Carole’s appearance in the docuseries “Tiger King” brought her advocacy to a wider audience. It also brought attention to her rivalry with Joe Exotic and the fact that her second husband went missing.
Who is Carole Baskin?
Carole Baskin became well known by running Big Cat Rescue, a well-known shelter for big cats that also works to make it harder for people to own these animals privately. But Baskin became famous because of the popular docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness (2020). Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic, the owner of a private zoo who Baskin thought was mistreating his animals, were at odds in the show.
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Join Dancing with the Stars:
Tiger King also brought new attention to the fact that Baskin’s second husband went missing in 1997, which is still a mystery. Carole Baskin joined Dancing with the Stars in September 2020, thanks to her fame after Tiger King.
Carole Baskin was born in Texas on June 6, 1961, as Carole Baskin Stairs at the Lackland Air Force Base.
How Animal Activism and Big Cat Rescue Began:
Carole Baskin got into the world of big cats when her second husband, Don Lewis, gave her a 6-month-old bobcat in 1992. When the couple went to a fur farm, they bought more than fifty bobcat kittens. After that, they got many other animals. Baskin and Lewis eventually took care of 200 big cats on a 40-acre sanctuary in Tampa, Florida. That had a bed and breakfast where people could meet the cats. Wildlife on East Street was what they called it.
Baskin and Lewis rescued animals, but they also sold big cats and had their own cats. But Baskin didn’t agree with this because she cared about animal rights. This put her at odds with Lewis. After Lewis went missing, Baskin kept control of the sanctuary and the people who lived there.
Baskin got marriage with Howard Baskin in 2004. After that, her nonprofit group became known as Big Cat Rescue. Big Cat Rescue is now a 69-acre sanctuary for animals with large cages (the smallest is 1,200 square feet). Big Cat Rescue has had visitors, but because of the coronavirus pandemic. They haven’t been able to spend much time with the cats there.
Big Cat Public Safety Act:
Baskin wants the Big Cat Public Safety Act to go into effect. This law would stop shady breeders and stop people from owning big cats privately. It would also stop zoos from letting people pet and touch these animals. In April 2020, a Humane Society representative told the Tampa Bay Times, “We think the most of Big Cat Rescue and the Baskins”.
Exotic to Breed and Sell Tigers:
In 2009, Baskin found out that Joe Exotic, the owner of a private zoo who has also gone by the names Joseph Schreibvogel and Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was taking young tiger cubs to malls so that people could pet them. Carole Baskin and her followers started to get in touch with these places to ask them to stop letting them in. Baskin also thought it was wrong for Exotic to breed and sell tigers.
Lawsuit for Trademark Infringement:
Baskin fought back, and sometimes Exotic did so in sneaky ways. He started advertising his zoo with the name of Baskin’s organization, which led to a lawsuit for trademark infringement. He also made videos that were mean to Baskin. Like a music video with a person who looked like Baskin that said Baskin had killed her missing husband and fed his body to her tigers.
Arrest by Police:
In 2017, Exotic went after Baskin in public and tried to hire a hitman to kill his rival. When the federal government found out about the plan, they arrested him. He got 22 years in prison for this and other crimes in 2019. In June 2020, a judge said that Exotic had broken the law. When he tried to hide his private zoo from his creditors by giving someone else control of it. He was in jail at the time.
When it came out in March 2020, during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness was a big hit. It was about the tense relationship between Baskin and Exotic. The show also tried to figure out what happened to Baskin’s second husband (Baskin has consistently denied any involvement in his disappearance).
After Tiger King came out, Baskin said that the movie’s directors were trying to trick people. She said in a public statement that she thought the series would show “the misery caused by the rampant breeding of big-cat cubs for cub petting exploitation and the awful life the cats lead in roadside zoos and backyards if they survive”.
Accusations and Hints:
There are a lot of accusations and hints that she had something to do with her husband going missing, but she didn’t get much of a chance to defend herself. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Baskin said that after Tiger King came out, she got a lot of death threats.
Men Lives as Husbands:
In 2020, the public found out about a letter Baskin had written about Murdock. In it, she said that she “would have killed” her husband to end their marriage. Baskin said that she wrote those words because her husband treated her badly.
Relationship with Lewis:
Baskin met Lewis in 1981 after he had a fight with Murdock. This meeting led to a relationship that went on for a few years. Baskin and Lewis were both divorced when they got married in 1991. In 2002, Baskin met Howard Baskin at a nearby aquarium. They got marriage in 2004, and now they work at Big Cat Rescue together.
Lewis, Baskin’s second husband, was 60 years old when he went missing on August 18, 1997. Lewis’ van was soon found at a private airport close by. Baskin’s husband was said to have planned a trip to Costa Rica, but Lewis couldn’t be found there when the police looked. Baskin says that Lewis was seeing other women and was involved in illegal things in Costa Rica. Before Lewis disappeared, he tried to get a restraining order against Baskin.
In a 1998 article about Lewis’s disappearance, People magazine said that it was possible that tigers from the couple’s animal shelter had eaten his body. In the article, one of Lewis’s daughters said, “It’s the perfect way to get rid of someone.” “We were mad that the police didn’t test the meat grinder for DNA.” But in 2020, the sheriff said that the meat grinder in question wasn’t at the wildlife rescue when Lewis went missing.
Five years after Lewis went missing, he was ruled legally dead, and Baskin became the main person who got money from her millionaire husband’s estate. In June 2020, the sheriff confirmed that experts had found that Lewis’s will had been forged, but he said that the statute of limitations had passed, so there could be no criminal case for the forgery.
Stop the Investigation:
In 2011, Baskin was asked to take a polygraph, but her lawyers told her not to. This stopped the investigation in its tracks. But Tiger King made people pay attention to the case again. On Twitter, the sheriff asked for information and told TMZ, “Someone paid someone else to do it.
Anne McQueen Speech:
In September 2020, Anne McQueen, who worked for Lewis, sued Baskin for libel for saying that she was involved in the disappearance. Also, in September 2020, CBS’s 48 Hours talked to Trish Farr-Payne, whose ex-husband had worked for Lewis and Baskin as a handyman. Farr-Payne said that when Lewis went missing, her then-husband brought Lewis’ van and some guns home.
Baskin keeps saying that she is not guilty. After Tiger King came out, she wrote a blog post in which she said, “Don was not easy to live with, and we had our ups and downs like most couples. But I never made him feel scared, and I had nothing to do with him going missing.
The Show Dancing With the Stars:
Baskin agreed to be a contestant on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. She could raise awareness about big cats. She said, “Every week, I hope to get the message out that these cats don’t belong in cages. We need to save them in the wild before they go extinct.” Family members of Baskin’s missing husband used her debut on Dancing with the Stars to put out a commercial asking for information about Lewis and offering a reward.