Tiger King's Carole Baskin breaks silence after missing husband found 'alive'

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·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
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Tiger King 2 explores the heavily debated fate of Big Cat Rescue owner Carole Baskin's ex-husband Don Lewis, who mysteriously vanished in 1997 and was later declared dead in 2002.

Now, new claims have arisen, suggesting he is still alive and living in Costa Rica.

Tiger King's Carole Baskin has broken her silence after it was revealed her missing husband Don Lewis had reportedly been found alive. Photo: Netflix
Tiger King's Carole Baskin has broken her silence after it was revealed her missing husband Don Lewis had reportedly been found alive. Photo: Netflix

Appearing on the UK's ITV show This Morning via video link from Florida, Carole addressed the speculation, saying she didn't think he would be "capable of supporting himself".

Joe Exotic, the subject of Tiger King, famously claimed Carole was to blame for Don's disappearance, going so far as to say she "fed him to the tigers", something she has always denied.

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In Tiger King 2, Don's attorney Joseph Fritz reveals a detective called in, confirming Don was alive and in Costa Rica.

"When we were talking about Don, the detective got mad at me and slipped up and told me there were federal reports of him alive and well in Costa Rica that he had to overcome," he said. 

Carole Baskin's ex-husband Don Lewis mysteriously vanished in 1997 and was later declared dead in 2002. Photo: Netflix
Carole Baskin's ex-husband Don Lewis mysteriously vanished in 1997 and was later declared dead in 2002. Photo: Netflix

Rey Rodriguez, Don's associate added, "He talked about moving to Costa Rica and starting over afresh. Don told me he was there to get away from Carole and so he put investments into my name." 

Don was allegedly linked with a gang that could forge passports, with new claims suggesting he changed his identity in the wake of his disappearance.

Carole said that while it seems impossible that Don would actually still be alive, she's "glad to hear it".

"I didn't think that he was capable of supporting himself. He took about $1 million down to Costa Rica and I had agreed to let him do that so that he could prove to himself that he couldn't make a living," she told the hosts. "And when we recovered what we could out of that years later, it was only about $80,000 because the investments he had made were so bad. 

In Tiger King 2, Don's attorney Joseph Fritz reveals a detective called in, confirming Don was alive and in Costa Rica. Photo: Netflix
In Tiger King 2, Don's attorney Joseph Fritz reveals a detective called in, confirming Don was alive and in Costa Rica. Photo: Netflix

"So I don't know how it is that Homeland Security says he's alive and well in Costa Rica, but I'm glad to hear it."

In 2019, Joe, 58, was convicted on 17 federal charges of animal abuse and two counts of attempted murder for hire to kill Carole. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

In Tiger King 2, the former zoo owner is fighting for release via a presidential pardon with would-be hitman Allen Glover claiming his target wasn't Carole, but Joe himself.

Carole has slammed the producers for creating a series "based on lies" by focusing on a 'made up feud' with Joe, rather than focusing on animal abusers.

She and her husband Howard are currently pursuing legal action against Netflix on the grounds that they only agreed for their footage to be included in the original Tiger King project.

Joe Exotic
Joe Exotic was convicted on 17 federal charges of animal abuse and two counts of attempted murder for hire to kill Carole. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison. Photo: Netflix

"We had worked with those producers for over five years on a programme that they said would be like Blackfish… and so we had worked with them to say, 'Here's all of the abuse, here are the abusers'," she told This Morning.

"But then instead of making it about the animals, they made it about a made up feud. I've never even spoken with Joe Exotic.

"My husband is the person who handled the lawsuit when he tried to use our name in order to ruin our reputation. And so it's all based on lies. I have been in the same room as him [Joe Exotic] in court, but I've never spoken to him," she said.

Joe's former friend Jeff Lowe, who took over the G.W. Zoo after the Tiger King's imprisonment, closed it permanently last August after its federal animal exhibition license was suspended. 

Carole won control of the zoo later in the year when the judge ruled she would be allowed to take over the property. She sold it this year.

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