By Alia Arafeh
I’m sure many people have watched the Netflix documentary Tiger King and were as shocked as I was to uncover a new world of exotic animal trainers and cult leaders. While every new character surprised me more than the last, my hatred for Carole Baskin surpasses that of anyone else in the show, and I have some strong reasons as to why that is.
First, Baskin probably killed her husband. If you’re not familiar with the show, the third episode reveals the mysterious disappearance of Baskin’s husband Don Lewis. While there are no solid suspects and the case is still open, much of the evidence points towards Baskin. Many viewers of the show have taken to the internet to reopen the case and prove Baskin’s guilt. During her interviews, she shows no real remorse towards her husband’s death and even laughs frequently when Lewis is mentioned. If that’s not deserving of hatred, or at least a little caution, I don’t know what is.
However, the alleged murder of her husband, though suspicious, is not proof that she’s a bad person. What really made her ill intentions evident was the million dollars that she put into taking down Joe Exotic. Baskin demanded a ridiculous amount of money from Exotic, and though admittedly Exotic played a part in this, she targeted his elderly parents in the lawsuit and requested their home be given to her as payment. Surely Baskin knew that Exotic was using his parents’ money without their knowledge, yet she continued to target them and eventually drove them to bankruptcy. Finally, the money she spent on a personal vendetta against Exotic was money that could have been used to help the animals that she claims to be so fond of.
Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue was another aspect that drove me over the edge. While she boldly claims to be an animal lover, wanting only the best for her cats, she places them in cages smaller than those of Exotic or even Doc Antle, yet she acts like she is saving the animals. Though Jeff Lowe is a conman and Doc Antle is essentially a cult leader, both do their respective things brazenly. Baskin, on the other hand, genuinely believes she’s a good person, and the simple lack of self awareness makes her arguably worse than her enemies.
Finally, Baskin plays a huge role in putting Exotic in jail for virtually the rest of his life, but literally opens champagne when the verdict is released. Yes, they are rivals and Exotic is not a great person himself, but celebrating his life sentence is just a severe lack of respect and shows her immaturity in the situation. On top of that, Baskin spends millions of dollars and years of her life trying to shut down Exotic and other cat owners, but it all comes down to a long and complicated investigation that doesn’t help any cats at all. While Baskin celebrates a personal victory over Exotic, his cats are still in the zoo and Baskin did absolutely nothing to help them.
Regardless of the many horrible people who are introduced to us in Tiger King, Carole Baskin is still at the top of the list. Her obsession with taking down Joe Exotic and lack of compassion for other humans is disturbing and unnecessary.