Baskin in 2019
Carole Stairs Jones
June 6, 1961
|Known for||Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness|
Carole Baskin (née Stairs Jones; born June 6, 1961) is an American animal rights activist and owner of Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit animal sanctuary based near Tampa, Florida. Baskin drew public attention for her role in a 2020 Netflix true crime documentary limited series, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, a series about the life-to-date of private zoo operator Joe Exotic. The Netflix series follows both Baskin and Joe Exotic, filming their ongoing and escalating feuds over exotic animals in private zoos.
Early life[edit source | edit]
Baskin was born on June 6, 1961 on the Lackland Air Force Base, in Bexar County, Texas, United States. At age nine, she expressed an interest in saving cats but decided against pursuing a career in veterinary medicine after she learned that they euthanize animals. Baskin dropped out of high school and left her home at age fifteen with a local roller rink employee. She then hitchhiked back-and-forth between Florida and Bangor, Maine where she would sleep under parked cars. Baskin later purchased an orange Datsun truck and slept in the back with her pet cat.
Baskin later returned to Florida and worked at a department store where she began a relationship with her boss Michael Murdock. At age seventeen, she moved in with Murdock, got married, and had a daughter. To make money, Baskin began breeding show cats. Baskin also began rescuing bobcats and using llamas for a lawn trimming business. She later became involved in the real estate business with her second husband Don Lewis.
Career[edit source | edit]
Baskin and her then-husband Don Lewis founded Big Cat Rescue, an animal sanctuary near Tampa, Florida for big cats, in 1992. Baskin is the current chief executive officer of Big Cat Rescue. Baskin has used social media such as Facebook and YouTube and her "The Cat Chat" podcast to promote her big cats activism. In March 2020, Big Cat Rescue temporarily closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic in Florida.
Personal life[edit source | edit]
Marriages[edit source | edit]
At age seventeen, Baskin moved in with Michael Murdock, her boss at the department store she worked for. The couple married on April 7, 1979; Baskin claims she never loved Murdock and only married him because her parents were disappointed that they had been living together outside of marriage. Soon after, Baskin became pregnant. Their daughter, Jamie Veronica Murdock, was born on July 16, 1980. Over time, Murdock became possessive and physically abusive. At age nineteen, Baskin threw a potato at Murdock as he attempted to attack her and she ran out of their home barefoot. On that night, Baskin first met Don Lewis on Nebraska Avenue in Tampa. Baskin and Lewis engaged in an affair while both were still married. The couple divorced each of their spouses and married in 1991.
According to Baskin and the 2020 crime documentary series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, Lewis would take monthly flights to Costa Rica to deal with his sex addiction. According to Baskin, Lewis would time these trips for whenever she was on her menstrual cycle. In July 1997, Lewis filed a restraining order against Baskin, claiming that Baskin had threatened to kill him; the restraining order was rejected. Baskin claims Lewis filed the restraining order because she would haul off some of his property whenever he visited Costa Rica. Lewis disappeared in August 1997. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office "found no sign of foul play" at the sanctuary and visited Costa Rica as part of their investigation. Lewis was declared legally dead in 2002. A dispute ensued between Lewis' children and Baskin over the estate, which was mostly left to Baskin. In 2020, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chronister reiterated that his department doesn't "have any type of evidence, not one piece, that suggests that [Lewis] was killed." The case is still open as of 2020.
Carole Baskin met Howard Baskin in November 2002 at a kick-off party for the newly-formed No More Homeless Pets organization. Howard Baskin soon after joined Big Cat Rescue as the Chairman of the Advisory Board. In November 2003, Howard Baskin proposed to Carole Baskin. The couple married in November 2004.
Joe Exotic feud and Tiger King[edit source | edit]
Baskin has a long-running feud with private zoo owner Joe Exotic. Baskin had been highly critical of Exotic and his park, the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, United States. Exotic promoted an unsubstantiated theory that Baskin was involved in the disappearance of her former husband Don Lewis. In 2013, a court ordered Exotic to pay Baskin $1 million in damages, leading to Exotic's bankruptcy. In 2019, Exotic was charged with planning a murder-for-hire against Baskin.
Baskin was featured in Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. She later spoke out against the series, calling it "salacious and sensational", and criticized directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin. She stated that the filmmakers lied about the nature of the series. According to Baskin, when they approached her about the series they told her they were going to be making "the big cat version of Blackfish." It was announced in March 2020 that Kate McKinnon would portray Baskin in an upcoming scripted series.
References[edit source | edit]
- Carole Baskin (February 26, 2020). "1961 06 06". YouTube. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
- Sean Williams (June 22, 2019). "Joe Exotic Built a Wild Animal Kingdom. He Was the Most Dangerous Predator of Them All". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
- Robert Moor (September 3, 2019). "Joe Exotic bred lions, tigers, and ligers at his roadside zoo. He was a modern Barnum who found an equally extraordinary nemesis". Intelligencer. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
- "Who is Carole Baskin? Meet the real life activist from Netflix's Tiger King". Radio Times.
- "Kim Kardashian Praises Tiger King — and Wonders if Carole Baskin Could Have Killed Her Husband". PEOPLE.com. Archived from the original on 2020-03-25. Retrieved 2020-03-25.
- "Carole Baskin". March 22, 2020. Archived from the original on January 17, 2020. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
- Bernie Borges (May 17, 2014). "Big Cat Rescue's Carole Baskin". Retrieved March 31, 2020.
- Bruney, Gabrielle (March 23, 2020). "Carole Baskin started a Nearly Lethal Feud in 'Tiger King.' Here's Where She Is Now". Esquire. Archived from the original on March 25, 2020. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
- "Who Is Carole Baskin in 'Tiger King' and Where Is She Now?". March 24, 2020. Archived from the original on March 25, 2020. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
- Carole Baskin (March 21, 2020). "1979 04 07". YouTube. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
- Carole Baskin (March 24, 2020). "1980 07 16". YouTube. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
- "The Secret". Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. Season 1. Episode 3. March 20, 2020.
- Gina Tron (March 26, 2020). "What Happened To Carole Baskin's Former Husband, Who Vanished In 1997?". Oxygen. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
- Douglas Charles (March 31, 2020). "Carole Baskin's Boyfriend After Her Husband Disappeared Also Filed For A Chilling Restraining Order Against Her". BroBible. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
- "Tiger King: Who is Carole Baskin's first husband Jack 'Don' Lewis and when did he disappear?". Metro. March 19, 2020. Archived from the original on March 26, 2020. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
- "Disappearance on Easy Street". WTSP. November 1, 2002. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
- "'Tiger King' subject Carole Baskin slams Netflix doc, calls it 'salacious and sensational'". EW.com.
- Audra D. S. Burch (April 1, 2020). "'Tiger King': What Happened to Carole Baskin's Husband, Don Lewis?". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
- "Police ask for new leads in disappearance of Don Lewis, husband of "Tiger King" star Carole Baskin". CBS News. March 30, 2020. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
- "Carole Baskin Weds Howard Baskin". Big Cat Rescue. September 20, 2019. Archived from the original on March 30, 2020. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
- "'Tiger King' Hitman Target Carole Baskin Shreds Netflix Docuseries: 'Salacious and Sensational'". March 24, 2020. Archived from the original on March 26, 2020. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
- "Not Your Average Joe". Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. Season 1. Episode 1. March 20, 2020.
- Karin Brulliard (January 22, 2020). "Zookeeper who killed tigers and tried to have rival murdered is sentenced to 22 years in prison". Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 23, 2020. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
- Miller, Korin (March 23, 2020). "Carole Baskin From Netflix's 'Tiger King' Is Doing Just Fine, TYVM". Women's Health.
- "Refuting Netflix Tiger King". March 22, 2020. Archived from the original on March 25, 2020. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
- "Kate McKinnon Set to Play Tiger King's Carole Baskin". InStyle.com. Archived from the original on 2020-03-26. Retrieved 2020-03-25.