'Tiger King's Carole Baskin | Srivideo
Born/Date of Birth: June 6, 1961 (age 58)
Place of Birth: Bexar County, Texas, U.S.
Other names: Carole Stairs Jones,Carole Murdock,Carole Lewis
Occupation: Animal sanctuary executive, animal rights activist
Known for: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness
Spouse(s): Michael Murdock (m. 1979, divorced), Don Lewis (m. 1991; legally dead 2002), Howard Baskin (m. 2004)
Carole Baskin (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.
Carole was born on June 6, 1961 on the Lackland Air Force Base, in Bexar County, Texas, United States. At age nine, Baskin 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. Baskin 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 returned to Florida and worked at a department store where she began a relationship with her boss Michael Murdock. At age seventeen, Baskin 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. Baskin later became involved in the real estate business with her second husband Don Lewis.
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.
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, Lewis was a sex addict who would take monthly flights to Costa Rica whenever Baskin 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. Lewis's children believed his disappearance was suspicious and a dispute ensued over the estate, which was mostly left to Baskin. 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. The case is still open as of 2020. The last action on the cold case took place in 2011 when many around the case took part in lie detector tests, Baskin declined by direction of her lawyer. following the Netflix series Tiger King, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister appealed to the public for legitimate leads or evidence.
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
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 a 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 the 2020 crime documentary series 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.
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