There are three types of people in this world. Those who think Carole Baskin is crazy, killed her husband, and fed him to the tigers. Those who think she's crazy and killed her husband. And those who just think she's crazy.
Thanks to the phenomenon that is Netflix's "Tiger King," Carole Baskin, the eccentric owner of Big Cat Rescue, is now world-famous. Her years-long feud with Joe Exotic was the subject of the new series that just about everyone in America has streamed by now.
Baskin is odd. She's usually covered in leopard print head to toe, and she always seems to laugh at inappropriate times. But is she a killer? Her first husband, Don Lewis, disappeared in 1997. The two owned a big cat sanctuary at the time and, according to the series, were feuding about the future of the sanctuary at the time he went missing. Her critics are convinced she killed him and disposed of his body. Since Lewis's disappearance, Carole got married to her current husband, Howard Baskin. The pair denied the "crazy" charges against her during filming, but the "Tiger King" himself, Joe Exotic, is convinced she not only offed her husband, but that she fed him to the tigers. He even made a music video about it entitled, "Here Kitty Kitty."
In their first interview since becoming world-famous, the Baskins spoke out about how they were "betrayed" by show's producers, Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin. What they thought was going to be a documentary intended to expose tiger cruelty at the hands of Joe Exotic and other zoo operators, ended up being a sensationalized murder mystery that painted them as the villains.
“I just feel so angry that people have totally missed the point,” Baskin told the Tampa Bay Times. “And the point is these cubs are being abused and exploited and the public is enabling that.”
The producers shot back that they never coerced Baskin to talk so openly about her ex-husband, but Carole claims she only did so because they promised her it would only be used as background context. Of course, it ended up being one of the biggest talking points of the show.
"There’s almost no way to describe the intensity of the feeling of betrayal," said Howard Baskin.
Theories abound over what exactly happened to Lewis. Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, who has been investigating the case, has seen evidence to suggest it was a homicide, and he suspects more than one person was involved.
“There’s someone who was paid to do it," Chronister told TMZ. "There’s someone who helped do it. I’m hoping that person wants to come and get this off their chest and help law enforcement do the right thing.”
Despite the Baskins' wishes to put this story to rest, a spinoff centered on Lewis's disappearance is currently in the works.
As for Joe, he's currently serving a 22-year prison sentence at the Federal Prison FMC Fort Worth for animal cruelty and for trying to have Baskin killed. He claims he was framed.
This surreal story has become such a phenom that last week it even made it into the White House briefing room. A reporter asked President Trump if he'd consider pardoning Joe Exotic, to which Trump replied he'll "take a look."
A reporter just asked if Trump would pardon Joe Exotic from Tiger King and Trump said, "I will take a look." pic.twitter.com/f0c0R8QmDy— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) April 8, 2020