Netflix’s recently released documentary Tiger King isn’t exactly what one of the series’ participants says she was originally pitched, and she’s not happy about the way the documentary turned out.
Carole Baskin, the owner of the Big Cat Rescue in Citrus Park, Florida, published a blog post on Sunday, March 22, slamming the Tiger King documentary calling it “salacious and sensational.”
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Tiger King exposed the seedy underbelly of the exotic animal trade in the United States, with the eccentric Joe Exotic at the center of the documentary. Exotic, who owned an animal park in Oklahoma with hundreds of exotic cats kept in cages, is currently serving a 22-year sentence in federal prison for attempting to hire a hitman to eliminate Baskin, his longtime nemesis.
“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 documentary that exposed abuse at SeaWorld) that would expose the misery caused by the rampant breeding of big cat cubs for cub petting exploitation and the awful life the cats lead in roadside zoos and back yards if they survive,” Baskin wrote.
She continued, “There are not words for how disappointing it is to see that the docuseries 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.”
The Big Cat Rescue owner is particularly upset about the way the documentary portrayed the circumstances around the disappearance of her second husband, millionaire Jack Donald Lewis. Baskin’s husband was last seen alive on August 18, 1997, before disappearing under ambiguous circumstances. Two months before Lewis’ disappearance, he filed for an order of protection against his wife, alleging that she had threatened to eliminate him, which she denied. The order of protection was denied.
“[Tiger King] 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 21 years ago,” Baskin added. “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.”
Baskins inherited most of her husband’s money and their animal “sanctuary” after he was declared deceased in 2002. Exotic claimed in the documentary not only that Baskin was responsible for her husband’s passing, but that she fed him to the wild cats. Lewis’ daughter from a previous marriage, Donna Pettis, also made a similar allegation to PEOPLE in 1998, claiming it the “perfect scenario to dispose of someone.” Baskin, who has never been charged, denied the allegation. “My tigers eat meat; they don’t eat people,” she told PEOPLE in 1998. “There would be bones and remains of my husband out there. I’m amazed that people would even think such a thing.”