Carole Baskin won’t be returning to the Dancing With the Stars ballroom for the Season 29 finale.
The Tiger King star, who was eliminated early in the competition alongside pro dancer Pasha Pashkov, won’t travel from Florida to California for the glittery mirrorball trophy announcement due to COVID-19 restrictions, according to Entertainment Tonight.
Baskin has been back to work at her Big Cats Rescue animal sanctuary in Tampa after being the second contestant sent home from DWTS in September.
The animal rights activist has already predicted that singer Nelly will take home the mirrorball trophy. The rapper is up against fellow semifinalists Bachelorette alum Kaitlyn Bristowe, Catfish star Nev Schulman and One Day at a Time actress Justina Machado for the honor.
Baskin was one of the most controversial contestants this season on Dancing With the Stars, but she said she put herself in the spray-tanned and sequined spotlight for the animals. A post on her BigCatRescue.org website stated that she joined the cast of DWTS simply to draw more attention to the animals that she has been fighting to protect.
“I’m going to put my heart and soul into winning the mirrorball because the longer I can stay on the show, the more the plight of big cats will be kept in the public eye,” she said earlier this year.
While Baskin won’t be back for a final sashay across the ballroom floor, other ousted Season 29 contestants will follow tradition and make a return to cheer on the contenders. ET reported that The Real star Jeannie Mai will return to DWTS following her abrupt exit from the show earlier this month due to a medical emergency.
In addition, Chrishell Stause, Jesse Metcalfe, Vernon Davis, Monica Aldama, Charles Oakley, Anne Heche, Skai Jackson, AJ McLean, and Johnny Weir will all be back — which means Baskin is the only DWTS evictee who won’t be returning. It is unclear if the returnees will perform dance routines on the live show.
With Baskin nowhere in sight, the return of Heche and Stause could create buzz amid recent “scandals” following their exits.
Heche was reportedly “furious” about how her DWTS ouster played out last month after host Tyra Banks bungled the elimination announcement. The mixup came after the actress poured her heart out over her past romance with Ellen DeGeneres.
An insider told Page Six that after she was eliminated from DWTS, Heche stormed off the set.
“Anne was not happy — she was furious. She drove off the lot and refused to do any press,” the source told the outlet.
As for Stause, days after she and pro partner Gleb Savchenko were eliminated from the competition, the Russian dancer’s wife of 14 years announced she was divorcing him and accused him of serial cheating and a recent “inappropriate” relationship. The Selling Sunset beauty and Savchenko have both denied that their relationship was anything more than friendship, but all eyes will be on their chemistry should they reunite on Dancing With the Stars on Monday night.