More Tiger King Mystery: Carole Baskin’s Husband Is Really Alive?

According to Tiger King's Carole Baskin, Homeland Security has discovered her missing former husband Don Lewis alive in Costa Rica.

By Michileen Martin | Published

tiger king carole baskin

The pandemic streaming hit Tiger King may have convinced plenty of Netflix viewers that Joe Exotic belongs in prison, but it also convinced plenty of people that Carole Baskin should be locked up as well. Even celebrities like Cardi B got vocal about being convinced that the body of Baskin’s husband Don Lewis was buried somewhere on her property. But now Baskin says that not only has Lewis been discovered alive, but that it was Homeland Security who found him.

As reported by Cosmopolitan, back in 2021 Tiger King‘s Carole Baskin told ITV that Homeland Security contacted her to let her know the man she’d been accused of murdering had been located.

“[Homeland Security] 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.”

-Carole Baskin on ITV

Cosmopolitan makes mention how unbelievable it is that this revelation “flew under” the proverbial radar, but one possible reason it wasn’t a bigger story before now is that it has yet to be confirmed by anyone other than Baskin. As chronicled in Tiger King, Carole Baskin’s ex-husband was living in Tampa, Florida when he disappeared in 1997 and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department — who have been handling the case since then — told the New York Post they’ve received no word from Homeland Security concerning Don Lewis’ whereabouts.

It’s also worth noting that in spite of Baskin’s claim about being contacted by Homeland Security, Don Lewis is still legally considered deceased.

tiger king carole baskin
A photo of Don Lewis as it appears in Netflix’s Tiger King

According to the story in Tiger King told by Carole Baskin, she and then husband Don Lewis founded Big Cat Rescue — originally Wildlife on Easy Street — in Tampa in 1992, the year after they married. Don Lewis disappeared 5 years later, shortly after he had reportedly told friends and family he was planning to move to Costa Rica. Lewis was legally declared dead in 2002.

During his long feud with Carole Baskin, Joe Exotic regularly accused the animal sanctuary owner of murdering her husband. Ironically it would be Joe Exotic, aka Joseph Maldonado, who would be imprisoned for attempting to have Baskin assassinated.

In the wake of Tiger King‘s release, Carole Baskin claimed the docu-series producers lied to her in order to get her involvement in the project. She said she was led to believe the show would be about the plight of big cats rather than the more sensational true crime story that Covid-trapped streaming fans got. As a result, she refused to appear in Tiger King 2.

Baskin hasn’t shied away from using her Tiger King fame to her benefit however. Along with appearing on Dancing with the Stars, she used her newfound notoriety to get animal rights legislation passed.