Tiger King’s Carole Baskin Explains Why She Talked So Openly About Don Lewis' Disappearance

Tiger King Carole Baskin on camera with a flower crown

One of the most memorable, and certainly meme-worthy, figures from Netflix’s hit docu-series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness was Carole Baskin, the owner and operator of Big Cat Rescue. Baskin was the supposed nemesis of Tiger King Joe Exotic himself, and the subject of her ex-husband Don Lewis has led to a lot of discussion surrounding his disappearance. When interviewed about Lewis' disappearance, Baskin evidently thought she was providing contextual background for the docu-series.

In an interview with The Tampa Bay Times, there are two different tales to be told when it comes to Carole Baskin’s participation in the Tiger King docu-series. According to Baskin, the reason she spoke as much as she did about the 1997 disappearance of Don Lewis was because it was meant to provide some backstory for her life.

From her side, the story of her ex-husband’s disappearance wasn’t supposed to be a big deal, and was prompted by the series producers. Meanwhile, Tiger King producer Eric Goode has gone on record as stating that apparently those talks were more open than Carole Baskin would like to admit. In Goode’s recollection of Baskin’s participation, the discussion of her life “wasn’t coerced” in any way.

No matter which side of the story turns out to be correct, the truth is that in a miniseries mostly focused on Joe Exotic and his wild and crazy times as an animal caretaker/bon vivant actually took an entire episode to discuss the story of Carole Baskin and her ex-husband’s disappearance. Which, in turn, sent the meme machine flying into overdrive. Tik Tok remixes, a wide-ranging public debate/discussion over whether Joe Exotic’s accusations of Don Lewis’ supposed murder were valid or not, and even a social media post with O.J. Simpson chiming in on his thoughts about the matter were all part of the immediate aftermath in the wake of the series’ debut.

Perhaps the biggest development to come from Tiger King’s aftermath is the fact that Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister is now looking for new leads into Don Lewis’ disappearance, in an effort to reopen the decades old cold case. It’s not all bad news for Carol Baskin though, as she’s also the subject of a follow-up miniseries with Kate McKinnon starring in the role of Baskin herself. So it sounds like there could be more information waiting for the public in this new dramatized version of events.

Netflix has set off a flood of follow-ups, further investigations, and pop culture fodder in the wake of its release of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness. It’s far from over, and as things develop, we’ll be breaking the news here at CinemaBlend. In the meantime, you can watch the entire Tiger King series, with a new aftershow episode, “The Tiger King and I”, hosted by Joel McHale, now on Netflix.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.