Carole Baskin, star of Netflix’s Tiger King and founder of Big Cat Rescue, said drones have flown over her Florida home and she’s received death threats in recent weeks.
Baskin and her husband, Howard, also called the makers of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness ‘the biggest con artists of them all’ and claimed their trust was betrayed after filming.
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness tells the story of a zoo owner, Joe Exotic, who spirals out of control amid a cast of eccentric characters and plans a murder-for-hire plot against Baskin.
Carole Baskin (pictured) of Netflix’s Tiger King said she’s received death threats since the series debuted in 2020
The Baskins own the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary (pictured) in Tampa, Florida, and house exotic animals they’ve rescued from unfit environments
Exotic has a deep-rooted dislike for Baskin – as seen in his several odd music videos and online rants – because she’s accused his zoo of mistreating animals.
Basksin, 58, told The Tampa Bay Times that she’s now afraid to leave her home after the docuseries debuted.
She claimed that she’s received death threats, spotted drones flying above her home and her doorbell camera has captured up to 30 people a day waiting outside her Big Cat Rescue sanctuary gates.
Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, was convicted of planning a murder-for-hire plot against Baskin
Before, Baskin has answered calls from local officials to rescue panthers and bobcats injured on the side of the road.
Now, she has to decipher if the calls are true authorities or people hoping to lure her away from her home.
‘I’ve had to turn my phone off. I can’t tell the real ones from the fake ones because they’re always out of state numbers anyway,’ she said.
But the Baskins are more concerned with how Tiger King apparently swept past the atrocities of the captive tiger trade.
‘I just feel so angry that people have totally missed the point’ she said.
‘And the point is these cubs are being abused and exploited and the public is enabling that.’
Howard said: ‘There’s almost no way to describe the intensity of the feeling of betrayal.’
In an interview with Oxygen, Howard said: ‘In a way this series is about con artists, people like Joe Exotic and Doc Antle who con people out of their money by convincing them that paying to pet tiger cubs somehow helps conservation.
‘In my view, the biggest con artists of them all were Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin.’
Baskin created the Tampa-based Big Cat Rescue sanctuary to fight big cat breeders by saving tigers, lions and other exotic cats from unfit homes.
Her sanctuary does not breed, buy or sell animals. The public is also not allowed to interact with the animals.
Baskin (pictured): ‘I just feel so angry that people have totally missed the point…and the point is these cubs are being abused and exploited and the public is enabling that
The couple is also upset that the show seemed to ignite and even play into the theory that Baskin killed her former husband, Don Lewis.
The Baskins admitted they trusted producers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin because Goode founded the the Turtle Conservancy, a group dedicated to protecting turtles and tortoises.
One producer also helped create The Cove, a 2009 documentary about dolphin hunting in Japan.
Goode told The Los Angeles Times that ‘Carole talked about her personal life, her childhood, abuse from her first and second husband, the disappearance of her ex, Don Lewis’ and that she wasn’t ‘coerced’ into sharing anything.
According to Baskin, she openly discussed the disappearance of Lewis and the ongoing, contentious rivalry with Joe Exotic because producers said the details would be used as background context.
Baskin (pictured), as well as her husband Howard, suggested the makes of Tiger King focused more on the personal lives of characters rather then advocating for animal rights
But an entire episode of the seven-part series was dedicated the mystery surrounding Lewis’ vanishment.
Joe Exotic – real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage – has repeatedly voiced accusations that Baskin killed her Lewis in 1997 and fed his body to her tigers.
The storyline became a fan favorite and inspired hundreds social media memes. It also encouraged strangers to call Baskin’s cell phone and leave lewd threats at all hours.
Baskin denied being involved in Lewis’ disappearance and has not been charged of any crime in the case.
Viewers, Baskin said, aren’t grasping the full message of the docuseries.
‘They saw those cubs being dragged away from their mother. Where are those memes? Where are those comments?’ she said.
Baskin claimed another betrayal was how the documentary reportedly showed her work at Big Cat Rescue out of context.
Footage from a video clip shows Basking talking to a camera while a lion is hunched in what appears to be an ill-fitting cage.
Baskin (right) was criticized after a clip in Tiger King showed a lion crouching inside a small cage to eat during her interview
She said the lion, named Joseph, had strolled from his 4,000-square-foot-enclosure into the tiny feeding shoot and was free to leave as he pleased.
Of the scene, Animal Defenders International said in a statement that such the series didn’t portray the the full pictured.
‘(Big Cat Rescue) provides natural vegetation, pools, added enrichment,’ they wrote.
‘From Tiger King, you would not recognize this as the place where our ex-circus tiger from Peru, Hoover, stepped through the woods and into the lake and began to swim for the first time in his life; such scenes were not shown.’
Although the Baskins have pushed back recent backlash, they hope the mounting attention on the captive tiger community will help propel federal legislation.
The Big Cat Public Safety Act, which they helped craft a decade ago, seeks to end private ownership of big cats and prohibit interaction with animals at zoos.
‘I really hope what will come of this is that law enforcement will take this seriously. We’ve all been screaming at the top of our lungs for 20 years that this abuse was happening, and no one was listening,’ Baskin said.
‘Now the abuse is so apparent, I hope it will encourage them to take action on it and inspire Congress to do what they can to end cub petting and private possession of big cats