Who is Carole Baskin?

That was a question I had last night for a couple of my gaming friends.

I play this interactive game comprised of 25-30 fictitious states. Each state has a government and a government notice board. Last night when I saw the third item on the board, “Carole Baskin killed her husband the bitch,” I thought she was a player in the game.

Recently, the mob on game chat was spreading rumors about one of the game’s biggest players. They were saying he was snorting coke and beating his wife and kids.

I normally don’t pay attention to that chat thread, but after reading the government board I wanted to know if anyone knew Carole Baskin. No one knew who she was, so I went to Google. I found that she is a person associated with a new documentary series on Netflix called Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.

As a Netflix subscriber, I had seen the big push for this documentary and saw that it was trending as the number one show in the United States. Naturally, with everyone on lockdown, a lot of people are tuning into Netflix.

The title of the program left me confused and not really interested. A lot of these Netflix original movies and shows are not interesting and they get a lot of unwarranted attention. Generally, murder and mayhem will get my attention and big cats always get my attention. Together though? Only the statement about Carole Baskin on my game’s government board enticed me to start watching.

This documentary series is based on a guy in Oklahoma named Joe Exotic. He owns a wildlife establishment called the G.W. Zoo. He has hundreds of big cats and breeds these cats on the property. He allows small children to snuggle with big cat babies and he makes it look normal to play with 500-pound tigers.

I am not going to lie and say that I don’t love seeing big cats up close and personal. I adore them. I am also not going to lie and say I think it is okay to confine any animal that belongs in the wild. And I especially do not think it is a good idea to make small children believe it is safe to have any direct contact with a baby tiger, lion or any other big cat.

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Carole Baskin is one of Joe’s arch enemies. She owns the Big Cat Sanctuary near Tampa Florida. She has been partners with PETA and she has stalked Joe’s every move for years to deter him from making a profit off these animals. She does tours of her sanctuary. She takes in animals from people who thought they could raise a big cat on their property but learned they could not.

Every animal sanctuary needs revenue to exist. Animals cost money and that is certainly one of the reasons behind the tours. One day I will tell you about my friends who run a domestic cat sanctuary. They perform this act of labor because they truly love and care about cats that have been dumped by their owners.

I have not learned enough about Carole Baskin to believe in her sincerity. As I keep watching and learning, I will be able to make a judgement call. Part of this documentary focuses on the accusation that Joe Exotic hired someone to kill Carole. And the documentary also highlights the fact that Carole’s second husband mysteriously disappeared.

I am anxious to learn more about both Joe and Carole, and it is a great distraction from the constant Coronavirus gloom and doom.

There is one thing I will say. At least Joe and Carole are not out hunting and killing these animals in the wild. Most of these animals have been born in captivity. I hope we learn a bit about the horrors of having to remain in the same space day after day, while we are in our own lockdown. Big cats are no different than us. They don’t belong in captivity, nor do whales and dolphins, no matter how much we love seeing them with our own eyes.

I would sacrifice never seeing another wild animal up close and personal if it meant they were all free. We all can’t afford an African Safari, but most of us can afford the Discovery Channel.