Carole Baskin Is Rightfully Upset About Tiger King Edit

Illustration for article titled Carole Baskin Is Rightfully Upset About Tiger King Edit
Image: Netflix

While it’s easy to hate nearly everyone who appears in Netflix’s hit docuseries Tiger King, the least awful of the show’s villains may be Carole Baskin, the arch-nemesis of big cat breeder Joe Exotic. Sure, there are rumors that Baskin may have fed her already incredibly shady husband to her tigers. But the show presents no evidence or reason to believe the murder claim other than Exotic’s insistence that it’s true. And somehow, in a show where men were literally hired to kill Baskin, many fans have walked away cheering for Exotic.

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Baskin is rightfully mad about her edit in Tiger King and the focus on her husband’s death. In a new interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Baskin says she has received a flood of death threats since the show aired and has seen “as many as 30 people a day” hanging outside her Big Cat Sanctuary. She can no longer bike to the sanctuary from her home after being accosted by people.

Baskin says she initially trusted Tiger King’s mission because of producer Eric Goode’s work as the founder of the Turtle Conservancy and the fact that another producer worked on the dolphin hunting documentary The Cove. “I just feel so angry that people have totally missed the point,” Baskin says. She adds that the series did not portray the massive size of her sanctuary, where the smallest enclosure is 1,200 square feet, even though the show makes it seem like her sanctuary is too small for the tigers.

In a lengthy statement posted to her website on April 12, Baskin also refuted a lot of Tiger King’s claims such as elaborating on salaries at the sanctuary (the show portrays all labor as being done by volunteers) and the years leading up to her husband Don Lewis’s death, during which Baskin said he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and behaved erratically. “Don was not easy to live with and like most couples, we had our moments,” she writes. “But I never threatened him and I certainly had nothing to do with his disappearance.”

Pop Culture Reporter, Jezebel

DISCUSSION

I’m sorry, maybe I’m not reading the statement correctly and I don’t get that this is sarcasm, but this is just not true. Circumstantial evidence is still evidence.

We cannot overlook the fact that there is an application for a TRO, penned in the disappeared (and now presumed dead) husband’s own hand, in which he describes Carol threatening to kill him, and otherwise detailing some classic DV. If this had been a wealthy woman who had disappeared under mysterious circumstances after applying for (and being denied) a retraining order after alleging her husband had threatened to kill her, this article would be a think piece on intimate partner violence, and would be awash in the various statistics that reflect the dire and grim reality for women who are often killed by the male partners after raising red flags to the authorities and being ignored. There’s also the fact that the disappeared husband advised more than one person that he was getting ready to divorce her, but that after the disappearance, a new will emerged out of nowhere that disinherited everyone but Carol.

Mind you, I don’t there are any good guys in this show (except maybe that woman who lost her arm—she’s seems pretty fucking solid), but I don’t know that I’d rate Carol as the least villain in this thing. At a minimum, Tim Stark isn’t sexually exploiting teenagers or drug addicts, isn’t running a bizarre cult, and is not suspected of killing, or trying to have someone killed. Similarly, James Garrotson seems like a fucking sleazeball, but has seemingly never bred tigers, and otherwise is just a white collar criminal—maybe a fraudster—all of which are superior to sexual predators and attempted murderers.