Tiger King: Florida Sheriff Asks For Leads On Carole Baskin’s Missing Husband
Following the massive popularity of Netflix’s Tiger King, the Hillsborough County sheriff appealed for new info in the disappearance of Jack "Don" Lewis, Carole Baskin's former husband.
Tiger King: Murder, Mystery and Mayhem follows the wild life of Oklahoma zookeeper Joe Exotic (real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage), along with an equally eccentric (and entertaining) band of characters, including Joe’s arch-nemesis and animal rights activist, Carole Baskin.
Carole has been a major talking point for viewers since the series dropped, after Joe alleged the Big Cat Rescue owner had killed her husband, Jack “Don” Lewis and fed him to her tigers after processing his body though her kitchen meat grinder.
With the world heading indoors for self-isolation, viewers have nothing but time on their hands and, with Tiger King currently reigning as the streaming platform’s number one show, fans are deep diving for clues relating to Carole’s husband’s mysterious disappearance -- leading to a renewed interest in the case by authorities.
Seeing the huge influence and reach of the series, on Monday, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister took to Twitter to ask fans for any information or leads in Lewis' case, which saw the millionaire disappear in August of 1997.
Baskin vehemently denied the rumours that she was any way involved in her former husband’s disappearance -- both in Tiger King and in a blog post on her Big Cat Rescue website, where she criticised the show for being “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,” Carole wrote.
“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.”
Carole also insisted producers had pitched the series to her as a "big cat version of Blackfish".
Tiger King producers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin have since responded to Carole's claims, saying that she "wasn't coerced" and they were "completely forthright with the characters".
"Carole talked about her personal life, her childhood, abuse... the disappearance of her ex, Don Lewis," co-producer Goode told the LA Times.
"She knew that this was...not a Blackfish because of the things she spoke about. She certainly wasn't coerced."
And if, like us, you’re also enthralled in the absolute roller coaster that is life of cat queen Carole Baskin, you’ll be happy to know that the cat enthusiast is set to be the subject of a new scripted series spearheaded by SNL’s Kate McKinnon, who is also set to play the character of Carole.
Surprisingly, Carole seems to be relatively fine with the news of a mini series about her, with Carole telling TMZ through a representative that, rather than using real tigers for the upcoming show, they suggested Kate “instead utilise computer-generated imagery (CGI) of cats in the show rather than forcing real big cats to suffer just to entertain the audience”.
The rep for Big Cat Rescue says, "We hope McKinnon has a passion for animals and that her series will focus on the horrible lives captive big cats lead when exploited by breeders like Joe Exotic. We further hope she urges the public to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act that would end the cub petting abuse in America."
PETA also pleaded that Kate and her producers "use only CGI, animatronics, or even existing footage of big cats and other animals."
Carole Baskin isn’t the only Tiger King character that has celebrity fans clambering to play them; Dax Shepard and Edward Norton are just some of the celebs hoping to nab a role as Joe Exotic in any future projects.
"If I don't get cast as Joe Exotic in the eventual biopic, Hollywood is broken," Dax Shepard tweeted days after the show dropped.
Edward Norton fired back at Shepard, "Um, step aside, pal. You're way too young and buff and you know it," before suggesting Shepard play Travis Maldonado, Joe’s late husband.
In yet another strange twist for the series (do they ever end???) some internet super-sleuths discovered that maybe-cult-leader-slash-wildlife-keeper Bhagavan "Doc" Antle, appeared onstage with Britney Spears during her memorable performance of "I'm a Slave 4 U" at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, where the singer emerged from a rotating cage featuring him alongside one of his tigers.
Antle discussed the experience in a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone. "She was a golden child for that," he said of Spears. "She had to climb into a cage and dance with a big, adult tiger. Big adult tiger's in there. It's just an arms-width wide cage."
He continued, "We're in there, spinning around. Ten thousand people are screaming and dancing, and the tiger's just Mr. Cool."
"A tiger that's Mr. Cool like that is a big, macho, male tiger that believes he owns the world already, and he lets you be in it."
Phew! And that’s your daily wrap up on the latest happenings in the weird, wonderful and wacky world of Tiger King. Tune in tomorrow, where honestly, at this point, anything could happen.