TAMPA, Fla. — Even before the release of "Tiger King 2" on Netflix, Big Cat Rescue CEO Carole Baskin was vocal that the entire series was "misleading," particularly in the disappearance of her first husband, Don Lewis.
After the Nov. 17 release of "Tiger King 2," Baskin and her husband Howard released a statement to 10 Tampa Bay after we requested an interview.
Within the statement, Baskin said the second season of "Tiger King" falsely tried to convince viewers that she was involved in the disappearance of her first husband, Don Lewis.
Lewis has been missing since 1997. Last year, several months after the release of "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness," Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister reopened the missing person's case. The hype around the Netflix docuseries led the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office to look for new leads in March 2020. Tips came in daily, but most were missing one key element — credibility.
In interviews since, Chronister said he believes Lewis was murdered in 1997 and did not just disappear as was alleged.
Lewis' family has also renewed calls to find out what happened to him. Baskin has denied being involved in her husband's disappearance.
On Nov. 18, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Corporal Moises Garcia, the lead detective on Lewis' missing person case will discuss "Tiger King 2."
Earlier this month, a federal judge denied a request by Baskin and her husband to a temporary restraining order against Netflix and a production company over previously-shot footage of them to be used in the upcoming "Tiger King 2" docuseries.
The suit, filed in Florida, alleges that Royal Goode Productions is using footage of Baskin and her husband, Howard, even though they only signed releases for the first documentary, Variety reported.
Deadline reported the couple is alleging the production doesn't have the right to use footage leftover from 2020's "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness."
However, the judge said, among other things, the Baskins did not face irreparable harm from the release of the footage.
Baskin's Big Cat Rescue sanctuary claimed the makers of the original "Tiger King" misled them about what the documentary would be about. It claimed the series had the "sole goal of being as salacious and sensational as possible to draw viewers."
Also within the statement, Baskin lists several examples within the docuseries that she says are "misleading," including the alleged rape of a woman and the "false singing" of Joe Exotic.
You can read Baskin's full statement to 10 Tampa Bay below:
Season 2, as expected and indicated in the Trailer, continues to do everything they can to falsely convince the viewer that Carole was involved in Don Lewis disappearance. It is primarily nothing more than a rehash of the first season with a few misleading additions. The idea that a notary public who has hundreds of documents placed in front of her to notarize signatures without reading their contents is going to remember signing a particular document is absurd. Statements that the unlicensed bounty hunter did not physically go to other countries do not conflict with statements he made to Carole that he had “looked into” other countries.
They conveniently omitted that in the scene when Carole told Don to leave the property and not come back after his threats to kill the cats, she was telling him not to come back until he had been examined for Alzheimer’s, which had been under discussion because of his deteriorating behavior.
Here is the truncated clip used in the Series:
“He said he would poison ALL of the cats with antifreeze. I told him to get off the property, and not come back. I told him that if he did not go, I would have him arrested.”
Here is the full diary entry where they deleted the parts in italics:
“He said he would poison ALL of the cats with antifreeze. I asked why he would inflict such a painful death on an innocent animal, and he said it would be worth it to him, just to see me suffer. I told him to get off the property, and not come back. I told him that if he did not go, I would have him arrested. I told him that he could not come back until he had been tested for Alzheimer’s disease and if it proved that he was sane, and just evil, then he could have his divorce, but if the tests concluded that he was ill, then I would take care of him until he died.”
Consistent with their prior lack of ethics, the producers continued with the technique they used in Season 1 of having accusatory statements about Carole followed by images or video of her chosen to intentionally reinforce and magnify the accusations. The result, predictably, has been a new surge of social media hate directed at Carole the day of the release.
They also continued to allow Joe Exotic to make false statements without contradiction leaving the implication they are true. For instance, Joe saying Ashley Webster came to the zoo to be a “playmate for Jeff and Lauren” when we are told that according to witnesses she was drugged and raped at the zoo. Another example of hiding the truth is continuing to give the absurd false impression that it is actually Joe singing the songs, when in fact the singing was just one more example of his lying to get attention.
With all the talk about Joe Exotic being “set up” and witnesses recanting, the producers again fail to point out that it was Joe’s own words from the recorded conversations that played a key role in his conviction. One juror explained it this way to the Huffington Post:
“There was a long recording of [the apparent hitman] meeting Joe,” she said. “We could have convicted on both murder-for-hire counts based on one sentence that Joe said, which was: ‘The first guy that I hired to kill her ran away with my $3,000. Now we’re going to try this again.’”
[Baskin's message linked to a Dropbox file, but it appears to have been deleted.]
And for everyone who still wants to believe that Carole killed Don, then please explain to us why you think armchair detectives, or you are better informed than the Special Agent in Charge at the FBI in this Homeland Security Document which says “Don Lewis is currently alive and well in Costa Rica.” This was reported to Jorge Fernandez of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office by the SAC at the FBI according to this letter. While they have purposely redacted the SAC’s name and date, we do know that there wasn’t a Homeland Security until November 2002 which was 5 years after Don Lewis left home in Tampa, FL.