Family of Carole Baskin’s dead husband reject Tiger King star’s ‘alive and well’ claim
The animal rights activist alleged that the FBI confirms husband, declared legally dead in 2022, is alive and living the dream in Costa Rica, but Lewis’ family members don’t buy it.
A 2021 interview with Tiger King’s Carole Baskin recently went viral, in which she announced her long-deceased husband, Jack ‘Don’ Lewis is alive, but her dead husband’s family members have spoken out to deny the claim.
Lewis was 59 years old the day he went missing in 1997, and if he were alive today, as Baskin, the owner of a sanctuary for exotic cats - Big Cat Rescue - claims he is, he would be 81 years old.
Lewis’ own children, Donna Pettis, Lynda Sanchez, and Gale Rathbone, declared Baskin’s claims to be false. Instead, they assert that Baskin is making it up to change the narrative surrounding her husband’s death.
“It’s simply not true,” the daughters said in a statement released to the New York Post.
Baskin claims to ITV
In an ITV interview, the 61-year-old referenced an undated and unverified Homeland Security document that states Don Lewis was in Costa Rica. The same letter made an appearance in Tiger King 2, though Baskin herself did not feature in the second season.
“One of the really exciting things that came out of Tiger King 2 is that they produced a letter from Homeland Security,” Baskin announced in the interview.
“They said my husband, Don Lewis, is alive and well in Costa Rica. And yet all of this drama has been made about me having something to do with his disappearance, when Homeland Security has known where he is.”
The letter in question concluded: “Lewis could reside in Costa Rica indefinitely. This investigation will be closed.”
Officials deny Carole Baskin’s claims
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has also countered Baskin’s claims that Don Lewis is alive.
“We have not received any communication from our federal partners that confirms the location of missing person Mr. Don Lewis,” a public information officer for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office told the New York Post.
“The investigation into Don Lewis’ disappearance remains a priority for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, as do all missing person cases.”
During the first Tiger King season, Joe Exotic claimed Baskin had murdered her husband - which Baskin denied - and fed him to the cats at Big Cat Rescue, and now Exotic’s lawyer, John M. Phillips, also released a statement regarding Baskin’s 2021 comments.
“During the filming of Tiger King, detailed efforts were made to find Don Lewis. They all failed. He is not alive,” Phillips recently posted on Twitter.
“The 2021 report by Carole Baskin was a further unsupported allegation. It’s being republished as if it has veracity. It doesn’t. The story of the Tiger King is filled with lies, set up and misdirection.
“We still await a hearing for Joe’s freedom. The lies and setup are spelled out in his Motion for New Trial. Read it. The work is done.”
What happened to the Tiger King?
Joe Exotic, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who had publicly accused Baskin of murdering Lewis, to which she has denied. According to Baskin, this proves her innocence.
The Tiger King star, Exotic, is now serving a 21-year prison sentence, reduced by one year in 2022, in prison for seven federal charges of animal abuse, and two counts of attempted murder on Baskin herself.