Netflix's final cut of documentary Tiger King isn't exactly what one of the series' participants says she was pitched, and she's not happy about it. Carole Baskin, owner of the Big Cat Rescue in Citrus Park, Florida, wrote a blog post on Sunday slamming the documentary calling it "salacious and sensational."
Tiger King exposes the seedy underbelly of exotic animal trade in the United States, with the eccentric Joe Exotic at the center of the story. Exotic, who owned an animal park in Oklahoma with hundreds of wild exotic cats kept in cages, is currently serving a 22-year sentence in federal prison for attempting to hire a hitman to kill Baskin, his longtime nemesis.
"When the directors of the Netflix documentary Tiger King came to us five years ago they said they wanted to make the big cat version of Blackfish (the documentary that exposed abuse at SeaWorld) that would expose the misery caused by the rampant breeding of big cat cubs for cub petting exploitation and the awful life the cats lead in roadside zoos and back yards if they survive," Baskin wrote.
"There are not words for how disappointing it is to see that the docuseries not only does not do any of that but has had the sole goal of being as salacious and sensational as possible to draw viewers."
Baskin is specifically upset about the way the documentary portrayed the circumstances around the disappearance of her second husband, millionaire Jack Donald Lewis. Lewis was last seen alive on August 18, 1997, before disappearing under mysterious circumstances. Two months before his disappearance, Lewis filed for an order of protection against Baskin, alleging that she had threatened to kill him, which Baskin denied. The request was denied.
"[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 21 years ago,” Baskin’s blog post continued. “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."
Baskin inherited most of her husband's millions and their animal "sanctuary" after Lewis was declared dead in 2002. Exotic claims in the documentary not only that Baskin was responsible for Lewis' death, but that she fed him to the wild cats. Lewis' daughter from a previous marriage, Donna Pettis, made a similar allegation to PEOPLE in 1998, calling it the "perfect scenario to dispose of someone." Baskin, who has never been charged, unequivocally denied the allegation. “My tigers eat meat; they don’t eat people,” she told PEOPLE in the same article. “There would be bones and remains of my husband out there. I’m amazed that people would even think such a thing.”
EW has reached out to Netflix and representatives for producers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin.
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