After Tiger King, Carole Baskin became the world's most hated woman. This is what her life looks like now.

While many of the Tiger King cast have been enjoying, or at least been amused by, their new found fame, one of the show’s biggest characters has been on the receiving end of hate, abuse and threats.

And no, it’s not that man who was found guilty of animal abuse and hiring a man to kill his enemy.

The one to come out of Tiger King as the ‘villain’ is Carole Baskin.

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness trailer. Post continues below video.

Video via Netflix

For Baskin, the Netflix documentary presented a unique opportunity to expose the exploitation of animals, particularly big cats like tigers and lions, by America’s private roadside zoos.

As the founder of a big cat sanctuary in Florida, Carole Baskin no doubt expected to emerge from the project as some kind of saviour, or at least a selfless advocate. The ‘good guy’.

Instead, she’s emerged under a cloud of suspicion that she murdered her missing ex-husband, minced his remains and fed them to her beloved cats.

And in turn, became the most hated woman on the Internet right now.


At best, she’s the butt of memes and at worst, she’s the recipient of death threats and intimidation outside her sanctuary.

The disappearance of Don Lewis.

Baskin met Don Lewis, a millionaire businessman, in 1981. She was 20 years old and he was 42.

Both were married at the time and when Baskin was 24, she left her husband to be with Lewis.

Since 1992 the pair ran Wildlife on Easy Street, which would eventually transform into Big Cat Rescue.

The direction of the business became a major issue in their relationship. Baskin wanted to collect the animals and offer them sanctuary, whereas Lewis saw them as a breeding and monetary opportunity.

don lewis carole baskin husband
Don Lewis. Image: Netflix.

Towards the end of their relationship, Tiger King suggested Lewis may have been preparing his assets in anticipation for divorce and feared for his life.

In 1997, Lewis disappeared, aged 59.

His van was found at a private airport about 65 kilometres from his home with Carole a few days later with his keys and briefcase inside, but there was no evidence Lewis – a trained but unlicensed pilot – had flown a plane, or made it to his destination of Costa Rica.

Baskin had suspicions Lewis had staged his own disappearance, according to a 1998 People magazine interview.

Lewis was never found and was declared dead in 2002, although his body has never been recovered.

For decades, Baskin has lived under a shroud of suspicion. Rumours circulating online and within the big cat community suggest she had something to do with it.

Lewis' daughter Donna told People magazine in 1998 she suspected Baskin had fed Lewis to her tigers.

"We were upset that the cops didn’t test the DNA on the meat grinder," she told the magazine.

Tiger King spent the majority of episode three insinuating Baskin had something to do with it, airing accusations from Exotic and other members of the exotic animal community without scrutiny.


In a post refuting Tiger King, Baskin wrote Lewis was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and prescribed medication before he vanished. His behaviour became even stranger, but he disappeared before his specialist appointment.

She also refuted the meat grinder rumour, saying the grinder they owned was a small, tabletop hand crank.

"Meat had to first be cut into one-inch cubes," she wrote.

"The idea that a human body and skeleton could be put through it is idiotic. But the Netflix directors did not care. They just showed a bigger grinder."

Trial by meme.

Out of all of Tiger King's subplots (of which there are many), the response to the one about Lewis' disappearance has evoked the most intense reaction.

tiger king carole baskin
Image: Netflix.

We watch as Exotic spouts rumours as if they're facts. He suggests Lewis was fed to tigers, or that his body is stashed in a septic tank.

We even watch his diss-track music video in which a Baskin-lookalike feeds raw meat to a tiger. It's horribly dark, and also a little funny.

It's exactly that tone that has shaped our reaction to Baskin.

Instantly, everyone on the internet became a detective. Many are on Twitter right now, dissecting old news stories about Lewis' disappearance, combing through Baskin’s wording, her tone of voice and facial expressions.

Even celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Cardi B and OJ Simpson - yes, that OJ Simpson - have speculated that Baskin could've got away with murdering Lewis.

They're convinced she's guilty, although real detectives have never listed her as a suspect.

After the documentary was released, Baskin blasted its portrayal of her on her website, saying it 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 unsavoury lies are better for getting viewers."

Tiger King also aired claims from Exotic that Baskin was doing the same thing as him, questioning the sizes of her cages - again, without scrutiny or context.

joe exotic niece
Image: Netflix.

Big Cat Rescue is an accredited, award-winning sanctuary with the end goal of shutting itself down, when big cats are no longer bred in captivity by roadside zoos and collectors.

Baskin's sanctuary does not breed, buy or sell animals. Her smallest enclosure is 1200 square feet and the largest is 2.5 acres. All of them have elements meant to mimic the natural environment of the animals, such as greenery and water features.

A video clip played in the documentary, in which a lion was hunched over in a smaller cage, showed a lion who had wandered into his feeding chute, from his 4000-square-foot enclosure.

Baskin cannot release the animals at her sanctuary into the wild, as cats bred in captivity do not have the required skills to survive on their own.

Death threats and abuse.

Carole Baskin is afraid, after receiving death threats since Tiger King was released on March 20.

joe exotic now
Carole Baskin in Tiger King. Image: Netflix.

Baskin and her husband Howard Baskin told the Tampa Bay Times they were horrified to discover the Netflix documentary portrayed her as just as shady as the animal owners she's been trying to shut down for decades.

"I just feel so angry that people have totally missed the point," she told the newspaper in her first interview since the series aired. "And the point is these cubs are being abused and exploited and the public is enabling that."

"There’s almost no way to describe the intensity of the feeling of betrayal," Howard Baskin said.

The Baskins told the Times they'd seen drones flying over their home. A doorbell camera has captured as many as 30 people a day lingering at Big Cat Rescue's gates, which have been closed since March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She's received phone calls and expletive-laced threats at all hours of the night.

Audio included in the article contained a recorded phone call, saying, "I hope you f**king die", "I’ll f**k you up," and calling her a "murderer".


Baskin told the Times she now had a hard time distinguishing between real emergency calls about cats that need rescuing and hoaxes from strangers trying to lure her out of her house.

And the infamous images of her biking are now more, as she's now deemed that too risky.

Big Cat Rescue's Facebook page has also been inundated with negative comments from Tiger King viewers,

The Big Cat Public Safety Act.

Tiger King touches on Baskin's advocacy for the The Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would end the private ownership of big cats and ban public interaction with the animals at zoos.

Despite the negative publicity and threats, the Baskin's hope if there is one silver lining out of the docuseries for them, it is that it raises the profile of this Act, which this year has 227 cosponsors in the U.S. House and 17 in the U.S. Senate.

"I really hope what will come of this is that law enforcement will take this seriously," Baskin said.

"We've all been screaming at the top of our lungs for 20 years that this abuse was happening, and no one was listening.

"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."

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Feature image: Netflix.