There’s a lot going on in Tiger King, Netflix’s buzz-worthy new docuseries. And while the majority of the show focuses on now-incarcerated private zoo owner Joe Exotic and his rivalry with animal rights activist Carole Baskin, there’s also an entire episode that strongly suggests Baskin played a part in the disappearance and presumed death of her husband, multi-millionaire Jack Donald “Don” Lewis. With the Tiger King popularity soaring, a Florida sheriff has decided to reach out to the public for new leads in the Lewis case. Meanwhile, Baskin herself isn’t very happy with she was portrayed in the docuseries.
If you still haven’t watched Netflix’s Tiger King, here’s a super quick summary. Controversial private zoo owner Joe Exotic made a name for himself with his over-the-top personality, but his world came crashing down when he was convicted of hiring a hitman to kill Carole Baskin, an animal rights activist who has a private zoo of her own. The rivalry between Joe and Carole went on for years, with Joe using his YouTube show to constantly trash Carole every chance he got. That included dredging up a theory that Carole was responsible for the death of her former husband, the very wealthy Don Lewis. Lewis vanished in 1997, and was later declared dead. And as Tiger King shows, Joe isn’t the only person who thinks Carole played a part in Don’s demise. Plenty of people close to Don – including his ex-wife and kids – think Carole is hiding something.
Tiger King has plenty of people talking, and one of the talking points is: Did Carole really have something to do with Don’s disappearance? While Don has been declared dead, his case remains unsolved, and now, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister is using the Tiger King popularity to ask for new info.
Since @netflix and #Covid19 #Quarantine has made #TigerKing all the rage, I figured it was a good time to ask for new leads. #CaroleBaskin #DonLewis #Netflix #Tiger #BigCatRescue #JoeExotic #TigerKingNetflix #HCSO pic.twitter.com/LHoJcBZVOI
— Chad Chronister (@ChadChronister) March 30, 2020
Now, just because Chronister posted this on Twitter it doesn’t exactly mean there’s going to be a new twist in the case. Still, it’s clear the Tiger King hype has caught plenty of people’s attention, and has more than a few people asking these questions.
As for Carole Baskin herself, she’s not very happy with how Tiger King turned out. In a statement to The Wrap, Baskin wrote:
“When the directors of the Netflix documentary “Tiger King” came to us five years ago, they said they wanted to make the big cat version of “Blackfish,” the acclaimed documentary that exposed the horrible abuse taking place at SeaWorld and other similar parks around the world. A lifelong animal lover, I was immediately drawn to the possibility of exposing the misery caused by the rampant breeding of big cat cubs for exploitation and the awful lives these majestic creatures are forced to endure in roadside zoos and back yards if they survive their time used for petting.
There are no words for how disappointing it is to see that the series not only does not do any of that, but has instead chosen to be as salacious and sensational as possible to draw in viewers. As part of that, they devoted an entire segment to 23-year-old lies and innuendos suggesting I was involved in my husband Don’s 1997 disappearance.”
But Tiger King producers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin are defending their film. Speaking with the L.A. Times, Goode said that Baskin “wasn’t coerced” into speaking with the filmmakers, continuing: “The other thing I would say about all these people is that there was a lack of intellectual curiosity to really go and understand or even see these animals in the wild. Certainly, Carole really had no interest in seeing an animal in the wild… The lack of education, frankly, was really interesting — how they had built their own little utopias and really were only interested in that world and the rules they had created.”
Chaiklin added: “I would just say we were completely forthright with the characters. With any project that goes on for five years, things evolve and change, and we followed it as any good storyteller does. We could have never known when we started this project that it was going to land where it did.”
Whether or not Carole Baskin had anything to do with Don Lewis’ fate remains up in the air. For now, you’ll just have to draw your own conclusions from the docuseries.
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