TV

Everyone Is Asking Whether Carole Baskin From ‘Tiger King’ Fed Her Husband To Her Big Cats

I'm not saying she did... but there is a LOT of evidence that's hard to ignore.

did carole baskin kill her husband? tiger king

If you’re looking for something to do during self-isolation, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is the perfect five-ish hour distraction.

Currently the #1 program on Netflix in Australia, Tiger King focuses on the story of Joe Exotic and his fall from exotic-animal breeder to prison inmate. The seven-part series documents Joe, the “gay, gun-toting cowboy with a mullet” and introduces his two husbands, eccentric big cat-breeding peers, his amputee staff and his ultimate nemesis, animal activist Carole Baskin.

Tiger King ultimately tells the story of  Joe Exotic’s journey to prison after multiple failed attempts at murdering his enemy. But during the docuseries, we learn that even Carole Baskin may have her own dark past — particularly with the rumours surrounding the sketchy disappearance of her millionaire husband, and the belief by some that she allegedly fed him to her rescue cats.

For the record, Carole denies all these claims.

In response to the documentary, Carole called the claims in Tiger King “salacious and sensational”. In her open letter, Carole says that Don showed signs of “mental deterioration” before his disappearance and denied that claims that her husband was as wealthy as he was made out to be.

Carole Baskin also explained that Don’s family had “strong selfish motivation to lie and make implications about the meat grinder” and that there is no truth in the claims.

“Don was not easy to live with and like most couples we had our moments,” Carole ended her response letter about Tiger King. “But I never threatened him and I certainly had nothing to do with his disappearance.”

*spoilers ahead*

The Mysterious Disappearance Of Don Lewis

Don Lewis was Carole Baskin’s second husband and disappeared mysteriously back in 1997.

Before his disappearance, Don was a successful businessman who had supposedly amassed millions in his 60 years on Earth. Married in 1991, Don and Carole had a 22-year age difference and differing opinions when it came to life and big cats.

Despite Carole now running Big Cat Rescue, a company focused on rescuing animals kept in captivity, her start in the big cat industry began much like Exotic Joe’s. Before her animal activism, Carole and Don ran Wildlife on Easy Street, a big cat sanctuary in Tampa, Florida.

The pair both bought cats and rescued others, but Don’s goal for the park was to breed and sell the animals. Carole, the “Mother Theresa of Cats”, was against this model of business and this led to problems between the couple

As shown in the documentary, in June 1997, Don filed a restraining order against Carole claiming that she threatened to kill him and had stolen his gun. In August 1997, Don mysteriously disappeared without a trace.

After staying missing for the mandatory five years, Carole filed for Don’s status change from missing to deceased just five years and one day after the events. Then six years after Don’s disappearance, and a year after he was declared dead, Carole renamed Wildlife on Easy Street to Big Cat Rescue to better reflect the business and its goals.

Despite Carole claiming that Don had left for Costa Rica, a favourite hotspot of his, detectives couldn’t locate Don within America or Costa Rica. Three days after Don was last seen, Carole reported her husband missing.

Police found Don’s van — with the keys still inside the car — at the Pilot County airport parking lot but there was no evidence of Don ever getting on a flight. As a result, rumours started to spread that the only logical explanation was that Carole had allegedly killed Don, ground his body up in the meat grinder and fed him to her cats to get rid of the evidence.

Even Don’s own daughter, Donna Pettis, publicly accused Carole of being responsible for her father’s disappearance and suspected foul play. “It’s a perfect scenario to dispose of someone,” Donna told People in 1998. “We were upset that the cops didn’t test the DNA on the meat grinder.”

The Evidence Against Carole Baskin

Throughout Tiger King, Joe Exotic’s disdain for Carole Baskin is seen time and time again. From shooting a blow-up sex doll made to look like his nemesis to his constant death threats online, Joe was definitely anti-Carole.

But many of those who have watched Tiger King, like Joe, also believe that Carole had a hand in her husbands disappearance. Beyond the strange photo of her husband on a leash, her highly specific line about pouring sardine oil on a body to get a cat interested in eating it sounded suspiciously detailed.

In Tiger King, a number of people tell the story that Don was scared of Carole. This is supported by the restraining order he had allegedly placed against her mere months before he went missing. The restraining order claims that Carole threatened to kill Don and had stolen his handgun

“When I got back me and Carole got in a big fuss,” the document read. “She ordered me out of the house or she would kill me if I came back — she has a H5 revolver and took my 357.”

Plus Gladys, Don’s wife before Carole, explained in the documentary that Don had expressed fear of his wife and told them that he was planning on leaving her — and in turn, leaving Carole with nothing. This makes the use of the term “disappearance” in the Power of Attorney document highly suspect and can give the impression that his demise was possibly planned beforehand.

The concept of Carole possibly feeding Don’s body to the tigers was a belief shared by Joe Exotic, Doc Antle, and even Don’s own ex-wife and child.

Joe’s song ‘Here Kitty Kitty’ even featured an almost exact body double of Carole holding a platter with a dummy human head as she fed pieces of meat to a lion. The lyrics and video heavily implied that Carole had a hand in the disappearance of her late husband.

But despite Don’s family’s request to test the meat grinder for DNA, detectives refused to do it. Claiming the grinder was simply too small and nothing like the one shown in the documentary, Carole said that the theory was “the most ludicrous of all the lies” in Tiger King. 

Beyond being fed to lions, Joe Exotic also believed that Carole stuffed Don into one of the septic tanks underneath the Big Cat Rescue complex. Now this one is a big stretch and is a belief hold by pretty much no one other than Joe — but it was a funny part of Tiger King.

It should be said that everything is just here-say, and there’s no hard evidence that Carole actually killed her husband. But it is all a little suspect that as soon as Carole could declare Don as dead, she did — a move that activated his will and gave her access to 90% of his assets and fortune.

Where Is Don Lewis Now?

There are a few options of where Don can be right now: in the ground as manure after being fed to a lion at Big Cat Rescue, drowned in the ocean after a plane crash, or living a double life down in Costa Rica with his alleged “secret girlfriend”.

In the documentary, Carole claimed that the last time she spoke to Don, he told her he was headed to Costa Rica. Even Don’s mechanic said that Don had invited him to come down on the trip with him, so the idea itself isn’t too far-fetched.

However, Anne McQueen, Don’s assistant, explained that Don would often fly commercially to get there so there would be a paper trail of his trip had he decided to go. But what makes little sense is Carole’s prediction of what happened to Don.

Carole said that her husband would often fly his small planes illegally despite losing his pilot’s license just a day after he got it. In order to avoid being detected, Carole claimed that Don would dangerously fly below radar level.

But in Tiger King, it’s explained that the small planes that Don owned would never be able to make the distance to Costa Rica without around four refuelling stops. Plus, if one of Don’s planes were missing, detectives would be able to at least know that Don had left the area or the country itself.

Tiger King is on Netflix now, so you can make your own mind up.