Carole Baskin is speaking out about the hit Netflix documentary Tiger King, where she was extensively featured alongside longtime rival Joseph “Joe Exotic” Maldonado-Passage.
The owner of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida, took to her website BigCatRescue.org on Monday to share a lengthy post where she addressed several things that were depicted in the show. Aside from clearing up accusations of not paying her workers and claims regarding the sizes of the cages where the tigers are housed, she also talked about the mysterious disappearance of her second husband, Don Lewis.
In her post, Baskin said that when she was approached about the documentary five years ago, the directors of Tiger King told her they “wanted to make the big cat version of Blackfish.”
Blackfish is the 2013 documentary that explored orcas being held in captivity. According to Baskin, Tiger King was supposed to “expose the misery caused by the rampant breeding of big cat cubs for cub petting exploitation,” including the “awful” lives those large cats lead in “roadside zoos.”
She went on to say that it is “disappointing” that the series did not do that, but rather was as “salacious and sensational as possible to draw viewers.”
The third episode in the series focuses heavily on Baskin and the disappearance of her millionaire second husband. Lewis disappeared in 1997 and was legally declared dead five years later in 2002. She addressed this episode in her post.
“The series presents this without any regard for the truth or in most cases even giving me an opportunity before publication to rebut the absurd claims. They did not care about truth. The unsavory lies are better for getting viewers.”
Baskin talked in-depth about Lewis and his disappearance, also addressing some of the rumors featured in Tiger King, including those surrounding the meat grinder. It has been alleged that she used it to dispose of Lewis’s body, but she says that is the “most ludicrous of all the lies.” She explained that she had a small, tabletop meat grinder, not a large one like the one shown in the Netflix series.
“They just showed a bigger grinder,” she wrote.
Baskin then discussed the size of the cages at Big Cat Rescue, explaining that the smallest cage is the size of a “small house.” She also clarified that the sanctuary is a nonprofit and revealed that there are workers who do receive salaries — including Baskin herself — as well as many people who volunteer their time.
Since the success of the seven-part docuseries, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida is hoping to get some new leads on the missing case of Lewis.