Carole Baskin’s salute, delivered in her melodious singing voice, is just one of the unforgettable thumbnails of Netflix’s latest must-see docuseries.
The documentary, which fell amid our self-isolating boredom to rapturous and insatiable cheers, is ostensibly about the world of big cat captivity in the United States, a booming industry with much higher figures those in the wild.
It’s ostensibly about it, yes, but it’s actually a story as old as time: greed, envy, gluttony, laziness, lust, greed and anger. The seven deadly sins.
On the one hand, you have Carole Baskin, a mother of the earth in her floral wreaths and leopard-print caftans who declares that her Florida wildlife sanctuary is all about saving the big cats from a life of cruelty and herding.
On the other, you have a cast of colorful characters led by Joe Exotic, a gun-armed, mule-athlete, gay polygamist who runs a park full of over 200 tigers in Oklahoma. He calls himself the “Tiger King”.
The rivalry between the two, as shown in the Netflix documentary, boils down to whether Joe – with a failed governor campaign and a busted reality TV show in his name – mistreats the animals in his zoo.
Joe, attacking the claims of Carole and other animal welfare groups, launches a campaign against Carole. He copies his logo for his own purposes. He protests in front of his park. He posts video on video antagonizing, including one in which he shoots an inflatable doll with a mouth stuffed with a dildo dressed as Carole.
And then he starts to claim that Carole killed her second husband, millionaire real estate developer Don Lewis.
All of King tigerThe third episode of is devoted to this claim, investigating whether or not there is a truth, and fans of the Netflix series are divided over the truth. So what really happened to Don Lewis?
THE CASE OF THE MISSING PERSON
Carole met Don at the age of 20 and the mother of a young girl. He was a successful businessman about 22 years his senior, with a wife and two children. They quickly started a relationship, although Carole didn’t leave her first husband until she was 24.
Carole and Don’s shared love for the big cats bound them. Together, the couple started buying bobcats and lynxes from 1992.
After a while, they owned hundreds of big cats, rescued from captivity and housed on their property.
The Netflix series suggests that Carole and Don’s motivations for running their sanctuary differed. Don, according to the documentary, was keen on raising big cats and running a profitable business. Carole’s intentions were more towards animal protection.
In the run-up to her disappearance, she alleged in a blog post on his site, that Don was beginning to show signs of “mental deterioration.”
“His behavior got stranger and stranger. He started refusing to go to the bathroom and defecate outside, ”Carole wrote in her blog post.
“I postponed an appointment so that he could see the specialist … But he disappeared before the date of the appointment.”
On August 18, 1997, Don Lewis went missing.
He told his wife Carole that he was going to Costa Rica. His van was found at an airport. He knew how to fly an airplane and owned several light planes, although none of them could make the flight from Miami to Costa Rica without refueling.
In fact, there was no sign of Don taking a flight. His credit cards had never been used. The Florida millionaire and real estate developer had simply… disappeared.
Over the years, the case of the missing millionaire has garnered media and internet interest, intermittently fanned by Joe Exotic.
In 1998, People magazine published a detailed article on the case, reviewing the existing evidence. About two months before Don disappeared, he filed a restraining order against Carole (the injunction was denied).
Carole hired a private investigator to help solve the case, but the detective came empty-handed. Since his disappearance, Carole and Don’s children and ex-wife had been locked in a bitter legal battle over the proceeds of his estate.
King tigerThe third episode of, which focuses entirely on the missing persons case, interviewed dozens of people involved at the time, from Carole herself to Don’s first wife and two daughters, who believe Carole in knows more than she suggests.
There was a meat grinder on the property, which his daughters wanted to have DNA tested.
Don’s personal assistant, who believed she was being investigated alongside Carole as a potential suspect, recounted how documents relating to Don’s power of attorney and his will went missing from the office following his disappearance.
When a will was produced, it was based on the event of “disappearance” rather than on the death.
“I have never seen him, in 37 years, say ‘or disappearance’, never. In this regard, it is woefully unusual, ”said Joseph Fritz, Don’s lawyer. King tigerthe producers of episode three.
Joe Exotic, who has devoted online videos and websites to suggesting Carole’s involvement in Don’s disappearance, hinted that the acid content in a tiger’s stomach could easily digest a human body and dissolve the bones.
This is a suggestion that echoes that made in 1998 to People magazine of Don’s daughter, Donna. “It’s a perfect scenario for getting rid of someone,” Donna said.
Don’s attorney, however, scoffed at this particular claim. “There would be a skeleton, there would be bones, there would be something,” he said.
Throughout 1997, reports from Costa Rica suggested that Don had been seen in the area. But he was never found.
“The investigation did not tell us where to look for clues,” said investigator John Marsicano of the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office. Tampa bay times in 1997. “I wish we had a lot more. We looked in every direction imaginable.
THE RESPONSE TO TIGER KING
After watching the Netflix docuseries, and in particular the third episode of the series, many viewers wondered what the truth was about the missing person’s case.
Although Don’s body was never found and five years after his disappearance was pronounced dead by the state of Florida, some believed Joe Exotic’s claims that foul play was involved.
This includes celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow, who have shared their thoughts on social media. “THERE IS NO OTHER EXPLANATION,” she commented under an Instagram post.
Elsewhere, on Twitter, dozens of people disseminated their theories on the alleged crime.
Carole, for her part, has refuted the allegations made and has always maintained her innocence in Don’s disappearance.
“There are no words to say how disappointing it is that the series… was all about being as salacious and sensational as possible to attract viewers,” she wrote in a blog post.
“As part of that, he has a segment devoted to suggesting, with lies and innuendo from people who are not credible, that I played a role in my husband Don’s disappearance in 1997… They didn’t care. not the truth Disreputable lies are better at attracting viewers.
Meticulously, Carole’s blog post refutes claims in episode three that she was involved in Don’s disappearance.
She claims that she contributed to the accumulation of Don’s fortune.
Even the use of the word “disappearance” in power of attorney documents was not unusual, in fact, given the frequency with which people went missing in Costa Rica at the time.
What about the meat grinder? The one Carole and Don owned was a small domestic version, not the big guy pictured in the documentary.
“The meat had to be cut into one-inch cubes first… to go through it,” Carole wrote.
“The idea that a human body and a skeleton can be subjected to it is silly. But the directors of Netflix didn’t care. They just showed a bigger grinder.
So what is the truth? The point is, we may never know. After the documentary released on Netflix in late March, reaching the top of Australia’s most-watched charts, a Florida sheriff called on those with information to come forward.
“I thought this would be a good time to ask for new leads,” he wrote in a tweet.
According to the sheriff’s message, Don is now 81 years old. He has been missing for more than two decades.
Yet, as Carole told the magazine in 1998: “My tigers eat meat; they don’t eat people. There would be bones and remains of my husband there. I am amazed that people even think such a thing.
King tiger is streaming on Netflix now.