Netflix's original documentary Tiger King is going viral, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons. The series explores the stand-off between big cat breeder and convicted criminal Joe Exotic, and Carole Baskin, the wildlife conservationist who vowed to end his mistreatment of the animals under his care. Viewers have been flooding social media with theories that Baskin has been responsible for killing her husband, so much so that Baskin has now issued a statement on her website refuting the claims.
"['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 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 unsavory lies are better for getting viewers."
There are parts of the documentary which can be interpreted as hinting at the fact that Carol Baskin was responsible for the 1997 disappearance of her husband, Don Lewis. At one point, Exotic flat out states that Baskin murdered Lewis and fed the body to the animals at her big cat rescue center in Tampa. Thanks to the revived interest in the case as a result of the popularity of the documentary, Hillsborough County sheriff Chad Chronister has declared that he is reopening the case involving Lewis' disappearance. Baskin continues in her written statement.
"In the few years preceding his disappearance Don's behavior was gradually showing signs of mental deterioration. Originally Don, from time to time, would buy vehicles or other equipment at auctions with a view to reselling them, although mostly he never got around to reselling them. But gradually his hoarding of junk that he brought to the 40 acres the sanctuary now sits on increased and involved junk of no value. He deteriorated into dumpster diving and even got stuck in a dumpster and called me crying because he did not know where he was."
"Back then Alzheimer's was not a commonly used word. I had not heard of it. Someone mentioned Alzheimer's to me and I got Don to agree to set up an appointment with a specialist, Dr. Gold. Anne McQueen intervened and convinced him to see her psychiatrist, Dr. Blasini. He referred us to a Dr. West in the same building who was not there, so Don saw Dr. Russell. He diagnosed Don with Bi-Polar Disorder and gave him a prescription to have an MRI at St. Joseph's Hospital. I did not find the prescription until I was searching his bedside table looking for clues to his disappearance."
"His behavior became increasingly strange. He started refusing to use the bathroom and defecating outside. He brought in a homeless man to stay in our house. I rescheduled an appointment for him to see the specialist Dr. Gold. But he disappeared before the appointment date."
Baskin then goes on to individually address each aspect of the evidence that the Netflix documentary has explored so far, like the meat grinder she allegedly used to get rid of the body, and Lewis's ex-wife and her children who spread rumors about Baskin's role in the disappearance. Only time will tell how the evidence, hearsay, and conjecture regarding the once-forgotten case of disappearance lines up this time around.