Tiger King’s Carole Baskin says Netflix ‘betrayed’ her and said docuseries would be ‘Blackfish for big cats’

Annabel Nugent
·2-min read
Carole Baskin, seen here in the Netflix docuseries ‘Tiger King' (Netflix)
Carole Baskin, seen here in the Netflix docuseries ‘Tiger King' (Netflix)

Carole Baskin has said that she feels “betrayed” by Netflix, claiming that the streaming giant changed the premise of Tiger King from what was agreed on.

Baskin found fame after starring in the streamer’s hit docuseries last year. Much of the programme documented the feud between herself and zookeeper Joe Exotic.

The 59-year-old, however, told The New York Post that Netflix producers had initially approached her with the notion of creating a docuseries that would be “Blackfish for big cats”.

Baskin claims she was under the impression that the series would focus on animal abuse as opposed to the relationship between Exotic and herself.

“I felt betrayed by them. We worked with the producers for five years. When they came to us they said what they were working on was Blackfish for big cats,” said Baskin.

Rex Features
Rex Features

The 2013 documentary Blackfish looked at the ethics of keeping orca whales in captivity, focusing on one orca named Tilikum who was held captive in SeaWorld, Orlando. Following the documentary’s release, SeaWorld announced it would end its orca breeding programme.

“To do the same for big cats, we thought [a documentary] exposing how the cub petting is so cruel would be great,” said Baskin.

She went on to claim that the show’s producers had told her that Exotic would feature in only “five minutes” of the eight-part series.

“They totally lied to us about what their end product was going to be,” she said. “The whole premise behind [the series] was that it was a feud.

“For a feud, you have to have two people that are feuding. I’ve never had a conversation with Joe. I’ve never even spoken to him.”

Exotic – real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage – is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for his role in a murder-for-hire plot to target Baskin.

Speaking about Exotic’s plans to kill her, Baskin said: “What I do and what he hated for me for is I go after all of the animal exploiters that are exploiting big cats. He was one of many of them who have threatened to kill me.”

Joe ExoticNetflix
Joe ExoticNetflix

“It’s just he’s the one they were finally able to catch and put behind bars. But it was never personal for me. I never said anything personal against Joe,” she said.

Tiger King’s creators Rebecca Chaiklin and Eric Goode have previously addressed similar comments Baskin has made concerning her portrayal in the series.

In an interview with The LA Times last year, Chaiklin said: “I would just say we were completely forthright with the characters. With any project that goes on for five years, things evolve and change, and we followed it as any good storyteller does.”

The Independent has contacted a representative for Netflix for comment.

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