#126: Tiger King’s Carole Baskin On Betrayal, Exploitation & Criticism

Over 60 million people binge-watched this week’s guest in 2020 when she appeared in the sensational Netflix documentary “Tiger King.” As the series unfolded, the world was introduced to Carole Baskin – the quirky and cheerful CEO of Big Cat Rescue. Despite her negative portrayal in the show and the hurtful lies that were spread, Carole continues to fight tirelessly for new legislation to prevent the exploitation of exotic cats in the US and worldwide.

I’m absolutely honoured to speak with this phenomenal activist who having once cared for up to 200 wild cats in her Tampa-based not-for-profit sanctuary, shares her recent efforts to pass a bill to end cub handling, the conservation work she’s been up to since appearing on Tiger King, and bouncing back after harsh criticism.

To find out how you can support Carole’s mission to end the abuse of big cats in captivity and prevent the extinction of big cats in the wild, head to BigCatRescue.org.

Enjoy the episode, all you cool cats and kittens!

Carole is introduced onto the show sharing her famous catchphrase and talks about her reasoning and regrets for agreeing to feature her non-profit sanctuary ‘Big Cat Rescue’, on the Netflix Documentary, ‘Tiger King’. [2:39]

Carole talks about how a celebrity and social media trend influenced the increase of captive cats and “backstreet breeding” over the last few decades, and the lack of regulations in the US that existed to protect their wellbeing. [5:32]

Carole shares her concerns regarding legal ‘smoke screens’ that have emerged in regard to unwanted domesticated cats that are at high risk of entering the black market to be sold for their parts. [8:17]

Carole shares her experiences filming for and appearing on various TV shows, touches on how negatively she has been portrayed and explains how she is always happy to participate to provide promote the conservation of these animals.  [11:27]

Carole shares how her experiences of negative criticism have strengthened her levels of resilience. [16:01]

Carole talks about the dangers of the media, drawing on examples of how negative and untruthful narratives have escalated in the past and have affected her on a personal level. [21:19]

Carole shares details of her current efforts and collaborations with multiple organizations, working to pass new legislation to fight for multiple issues relating to the safety, protection and conservation of exotic cats. [24:07]

Carole draws on her experience of appearing on Dancing with The Stars, stepping outside of her comfort zone after being raised in a house where dancing was considered inappropriate. [32:20]

Carole talks about the divisions in the United States today and discusses the effects of Donald Trump’s office over the last 4 years, and her decision to change her party affiliation status. Carole’s husband Howard also makes a surprise appearance in the first ever ‘podcast bomb’ on TSLP! [39:43]

Carole closes the interviewing explaining the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic on her sanctuary in terms of financial revenue and preserving the welfare and care of her 52 exotic cats.  [43:23]

“We just felt horribly betrayed by them”. [3:57]

“The people that exploit the tiger, see that as being the way of reaching the most people, by saying I have power of this tiger, therefore I am powerful”. [10:35]

“It wasn’t until 23 years later, when Tiger King paints this portrait of what they say happened, that all of these people jumped on the bandwagon.” [17:04]

“Once I was on Dancing with the Stars, people saw that there was some more depth to who I was to what they had seen in Tiger King”. [24:24]

“We were wondering if people would ever donate to us after seeing us portrayed that way”. [44:02]

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