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Carole Baskin: Big Cat Guardian and Advocate

Full Name Carole Stairs Baskin
Birthday June 6, 1961 (Age 62)
Birthplace Bexar County, Texas, United States
Occupation CEO, Big Cat Rescue
Animal Rights Activist
Years active 1992–present
Spouse Howard Baskin (m. 2004)
Net worth $7 million (estimated)
Social media Facebook

Early Life and Path to Big Cat Advocacy

Born in Texas in 1961, Carole is an animal lover from the start – caring for stray cats and dogs as a child. She marries local millionaire Jack "Don" Lewis in 1991. After learning about captive big cats, the couple starts Wildlife on Easy Street sanctuary in 1992 to expose big cat abuse. In 1995, they change the name to Big Cat Rescue.

Over the next decade, Carole dedicates herself to growing Big Cat Rescue‘s reach and impact. She perseveres despite huge challenges like parks refusing to work with her due to the controversy of calling out cub petting. Her passion and commitment to the cause is unwavering.

Rise to Fame Through Tiger King

In 2020, Carole becomes a household name overnight with the release of the viral Netflix documentary Tiger King. The series covers her fierce rivalry with exotic animal collector Joe Exotic. Her on-screen charisma and trademark flower crowns capture the imagination of viewers transfixed by the big cat underworld.

Carole leverages this notoriety to further her big cat protection efforts. Ever strategic, she knows any publicity can help advance her advocacy if channeled effectively.

Continuing the Fight Through New Initiatives

Since Tiger King mania, Carole remains extremely active in her campaign to end cub handling and private big cat ownership:

  • Lobbying for the Big Cat Public Safety Act to ban public contact with cubs
  • Producing video content and posting signs near roadside zoos to raise awareness
  • Publishing books like Cat Crazy: A Baskin‘s Tell-All on the Crazy Cast of Tigers, Lawyers, and an American Icon
  • Launching $CAT coin and selling merch to fund legal action against abusive facilities
  • Starring in new documentaries like The Conservation Game and Tiger King 2

She also makes memorable TV appearances, like competing on Dancing With the Stars in 2020 and guest starring in scripted shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm. Through it all, her mission remains front and center.

The Disappearance of Don Lewis

In 1997, Carole‘s husband Don Lewis mysteriously disappears. Speculation runs rampant about Carole‘s potential involvement despite her adamant denials. She is never charged, but this cold case controversy continues to fuel attacks on her character decades later.

Carole refuses to let the lingering suspicions deter her from her activism. She powers on, determined to turn the national spotlight toward ending cub exploitation rather than tabloid conspiracy theories.

What Critics Get Wrong

To critics who characterize Carole as eccentric, hypocritical or suspicious, supporters say: look at what she has achieved. She has secured big cat bans in over a dozen states. Her sanctuary now houses over 60 rescued tigers, lions, and other species. She has brought international awareness to captive wildlife abuse. Her whole life centers on this cause, not personal gain.

The Unwavering Activist

Say what you will about Carole Baskin – she is consistent and tireless in defending big cats. She works masterfully within the media machine to control her narrative and advance her self-proclaimed mission. Love her or hate her, none can deny she is one of the most passionate and committed warriors in the fight against captive wildlife misuse.