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Netflix’s Tiger King Leads to Further Investigation in Cold Case

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One of the biggest documentaries around right now is Netflix’s Tiger King. The seven-episode series follows the life of imprisoned zookeeper Joe Exotic and his feud with activist Carole Baskin. The show is so big, one sheriff has asked for leads about the disappearance of Baskin’s ex-husband Don Lewis.

Lead The Way

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister has been following the show closely since its release. Something standing out to him was the 1997 disappearance of Lewis. “Since @netflix and #Covid19 #Quarantine has made #TigerKing all the rage, I figured it was a good time to ask for new leads,” he stated on Twitter.

Chronister has been getting calls about the case, but it’s mainly from people providing theories instead of evidence. Fortunately, he sees this as a huge factor in the investigation. “People calling in with their perspectives may help our detectives see this through a different lens and say, ‘Hey, let me take a look at something,’” he told Time.

It Wasn’t Me

Before the show aired, Baskin knew she would get complaints about her animal sanctuary Big Cat Rescue. Upon its release, things shifted with Baskin getting asked about Lewis’ disappearance. On the Big Cat Rescue website, she expressed her anger towards the streaming service. “It 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 in 1997. 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 the truth. The unsavory lies are better for getting viewers,” she posted on the website.

Baskin also spent some time delivering details about her relationship with Lewis. The couple, who got married in 1991, co-founded Big Cat Rescue. As co-owners of a business, work problems made their way into their relationship. “Don was not easy to live with and like most couples, we had our moments. But I never threatened him and I certainly had nothing to do with his disappearance. When he disappeared, I did everything I could to assist the police. I encouraged them to check out the rumors from Costa Rica, and separately I hired a private investigator,” Baskin also posted on the website. Baskin was never charged in Don’s disappearance. In 2002, Lewis was declared legally dead.

joe exotic

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More Tiger King On The Way

While Netflix documentaries often go viral, Tiger King came out at the perfect time. With everyone inside the house self-isolating, more eyes are glued to their screens than usual. The show has been one of the top most-watched shows on Netflix since its release. With memes plastered all over social media, the Tiger King craze won’t disappear any time soon.

As expected, a story of this caliber would eventually get an adaptation. Kate McKinnon will be the executive producer of a forthcoming limited series based on the documentary. This project will be led by production company UCP, who has done adaptations of the podcasts Dr. Death and Homecoming. McKinnon will portray Baskin in the series.

Upon hearing the news, Baskin offered the Emmy-winning actress some advice. “Cat Rescue implores Kate McKinnon to not use real big cats and cubs in the making of her series… We hope McKinnon has a passion for animals and that her series will focus on the horrible lives captive big cats lead when exploited by breeders like Joe Exotic. We further hope she urges the public to support the Big Cat Public Safety Act that would end the cub petting abuse in America,” Baskin posted on Big Cat Rescue’s website.

No network or streaming service is attached to the project just yet. Many viewers hope Netflix will capitalize on the show’s popularity by giving it a home.

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