Carole Baskin cries over ‘Tiger King’ pain in emotional ‘DWTS’ preview


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It’s Week 2 of “Dancing With the Stars” and Carole Baskin is getting emotional.

Baskin breaks down into tears, in front of the cameras, talking about the impact the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King” has had on her life. The “DWTS” dancer video preview was released ahead of Tuesday’s first elimination show.

“I keep it inside,” Baskin, 59, tells her pro dance partner, Pasha Pashkov, while unsuccessfully fighting off tears in the video. “That is the absolute worst of this.” 

The polarizing Baskin, who runs the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Citrus Park, Florida, has made it clear she was not pleased with her depiction in Netflix’s hit “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” Baskin participated in the documentary series that brought her fame and controversy, fierce supporters and detractors, and a place on “Dancing With the Stars.”

Carole Baskin calls out ‘Tiger King’: Says the Netflix series was a ‘freak show’

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Her “Tiger King” rival, Joe Maldonado-Passage (known as “Joe Exotic”), is serving a 22-year federal prison sentence for his role in a murder-for-hire plot to try to kill Baskin.

Baskin also believes that her role on the series was edited to make her look bad.

“We filmed for five years to make ‘Tiger King’ because we were told that it was going to be the ‘Blackfish’ of big cats, exposing all of the abuses that these cats face. And people would demand better laws to protect the animals,” Baskin said when meeting the media before “DWTS” started. “Instead you got the freak show ‘Tiger King’ was.”

Carole Baskin, the founder of Big Cat Rescue, is featured in the docu-series “Tiger King.” She was married to Don Lewis, a man who went missing in 1997. (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)

During last Monday’s first episode, the family of Don Lewis, Baskin’s former husband who went missing in 1997 – paid for a commercial requesting information about his mysterious disappearance.

The commercial aired in Tampa and Jacksonville, Florida, according to Lewis family attorney John M. Phillips, who appears in the ad and mentions Baskin. Suspicions of her involvement were explored in the Netflix docuseries. 

Baskin told USA TODAY via email that she hopes the mystery surrounding her former husband is solved.

“Nothing would please me more than for Don to finally be found, as it would certainly prove my innocence,” she wrote.

Baskin has brought the documentary to “DWTS,” dancing the paso doble to “Eye of the Tiger” during Monday’s first show. Her first performance earned low judges’ scores and dropped Baskin to last place. 

Baskin will need strong call-in support from her fans to vote her through to the second “DWTS” episode and beyond, which could explain her willingness to show her vulnerable side to the camera. The big cat activist will dance the Viennese Waltz to “What’s New Pussycat” by Tom Jones.

Contributing; Erin Jensen

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