Entertainment UK

Claims Carole Baskin’s missing husband Don was ‘murdered and then fed to tigers’


Carole Baskin was the break-out star of Netflix series, Tiger King, and now she is taking to the ballroom in Dancing With The Stars.

The 59-year-old owner of the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Florida is one of the celebrities taking part in the American equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing.

She shot to fame when her ongoing feud with Joe Exotic made Tiger King the must-watch series earlier this year.

And Carole is taking her DWTS appearance very seriously, with friends saying she has already lost 20lbs by following a strict vegan dieting and working out seven days a week.

Carole is said to be riding her bike 10 miles every day and following this up with “a lot of squats, lunges and leaps”, according the TMZ, as well as cutting down to just two meals a day.

Carole is said to have already lost 20lb
Carole is said to have already lost 20lb

She also revealed her reason for wanting to take part in the prime time dance competition.

Carole told Good Morning America: “Tiger King really glamorised animal abusers and villainized me for trying to stop animal abuse, and so I felt really betrayed by that.

“But what amazed me was how many people believed that false portrayal of me without doing anything to find out who I really am. It’s been a nightmare since Tiger King aired.

“The longer my partner and I can stay in the running and in the competition it will keep the cats forefront in the viewer’s eye and to me that was where Tiger King missed the ball – it really should have been focused on the animals.”

Joe and Carole shot to fame in the Netflix series – with their bitter feud central to the show’s success.

Carole says she wants to raise the profile of what's happening to tigers
Carole says she wants to raise the profile of what’s happening to tigers

Joe, who owned he Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, is currently serving a 22 year prison stretch after he was convicted of hiring someone to kill his rival, Carole.

He was also convicted of 17 charges of animal abuse.

The pair had been at loggerheads for years but their argument with one another became increasingly bitter – and Joe even claimed that Carole was responsible for the death of her missing husband, Don Lewis.

Don vanished without trace in 1997 and Carole has since re-married her second husband, Howard Baskin.

Carole had criticised Joe’s unusual breeding methods at his Okhlamhoma zoo after it emerged he was crossbreeding lions and tigers to create liligers.

Joe Exotic let cameras into his controversial zoo
Joe Exotic let cameras into his controversial zoo

The big cat enthusiast also claimed Joe charging people to pet the animals in his zoo was a form of abuse.

Carole was not the only one to criticise Joe Exotic’s unusual methods with Peta claiming an undercover investigator “found dead, dying, and injured animals; extremely crowded conditions; a serious lack of basic necessities such as food, water, and veterinary care; shamefully inadequate cages; and untrained and insufficient staff who were intentionally cruel to numerous animals”.

Their report claimed: “Animals were routinely hit, punched, kicked, sprayed with cold water, and struck with rakes and shovels. And they were blasted with fire extinguishers to break up frequent fights.

Other allegations included tiger cubs being punched, dragged, and hit with whips and horses he took in were shot in the head to be given to the tigers as food.

Joe Exotic always insisted his animals were well cared for and that he bred tigers so that when the wild population had died out there would be some left in captivity, but it was impossible to preserve the habitat of wild tigers.

Joe Exotic has been jailed for 22 years

He claimed he would raise baby tigers to respect people and he would respect them.

However, his feud with Carole became increasingly bitter as she made it her mission to stop his Big Cat ownership.

She created website claiming he was an animal abuser, encouraging PETA to rack his movements and trying to damage his income by speaking to his clients about her beliefs.

In turn, Joe Exotic claimed the conditions at Carole’s rescue centre in Florida were below acceptable levels.

Finally, the feud escalates and Carole starts to organise protests against Joe Exotic and his zoo, while he hits back by holding Big Cat shows featuring the logo of her rescue centre, Big Cat Rescue.

Carole was involved in a bitter feud with Joe Exotic
Carole was involved in a bitter feud with Joe Exotic

Big Cat Rescue sued Joe Exotic and won a million dollar settlement against him.

It was then that Joe Exotic spiralled out of controlled and tried to hire someone to kill Carole Baskin.

He was arrested and convicted last year on 17 charges of animal abuse and two counts of murder for hire and jailed for 22 years.

But the rumours about Carole’s involvement in her husband’s disappearance have persisted. She has vehemently denied any involvement and insists she has never stopped trying to find out what happened.

She said: “Can you imagine having people think you killed your husband or wife and not being able to prove otherwise? Without a body, there is nothing I can do to clear my name.

Carole's husband, Don Lewis vanished in 1997
Carole’s husband, Don Lewis vanished in 1997

“We gave [authorities] all of the information that they needed to go look at the court records and to see that I always dealt fairly and honestly with Don’s daughters.

“He had been my best friend from the time that I was 19. I lost him in 1997, so talking about that turns up a lot of painful memories.”

Don’s body has never been found and following the release of Tiger King, police are appealing for new leads to determine what happened to him.

Joe Exotic recorded the video for Here Kitty Kitty, which showed a Carole lookalike feeding flesh to tigers, an allegation that has left her devastated.

Even Kim Kardashian waded into the debate about what had happened to Don, tweeting to her 64million followers: “Wow the amount of texts I’ve gotten about Tiger King since I tweeted about it all have mentioned their belief that Carol killed her husband! What are your thoughts? Do you think Carol killed him?”

Howard and Carole Baskin at Big Cat Rescue
Howard and Carole Baskin at Big Cat Rescue

But Carole has described this as the “most ludicrous of all the lies” and “idiotic” after she hit out at the content of Tiger King.

She hit out at the content of the Netflix documentary, claiming she was told it would be similar to the Oscar-winning film, Blackfish.

In a post on her Big Cat Rescue website, she dropped new information about the months before his disappearance, claiming he was exhibiting some erratic behaviour.

She said there are no words to describe how disappointed she is.

Carole wrote: “There are not words for how disappointing it is to see that the series not only does not do any of that, but has had the sole goal of being as salacious and sensational as possible to draw viewers.

“As part of that, it has a segment devoted to suggesting, with lies and innuendos from people who are not credible, that I had a role in the disappearance of my husband Don in 1997.

“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.

“There is no short, simple way to refute so many lies. If you do want to know the truth, it requires understanding the history of events in the years before my husband’s disappearance and the roles and behaviors of the people interviewed in the series, which I have tried to do as concisely as I can below but still requires a few pages.”

Police back up Carole’s insistence that she had nothing to do with her husband’s disappearance – and she has never been charged.

Patrol Sergeant Thomas told Oxygen that Baskin was looked at as a “person of interest,” but stressed “nothing linked her to being involved”.

He added: “As far as our case goes he is still a missing person. It’s not a homicide because he’s missing. We have no knowledge of where he’s at or a body or anything.”

Carole still runs her Big Cat Rescue with her second husband, Howard Baskin.


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