Netflix unleashed “Tiger King 2” Wednesday, but Carole Baskin wants no part of it.

The co-star and originator of the once-ubiquitous greeting, “Hey, all you cool cats and kittens!” would prefer that viewers instead tune in to “Carole Baskin’s Cage Fight” (now streaming on Discovery+). In the two-part docuseries, Baskin, her husband Howard Baskin and their team of investigators go on the attack to protect big cats against abuse by zoo owners.

When Baskin saw herself featured in the trailer for the next chapter of “Tiger King” (which started filming in April 2020 and continued until recently) she thought to herself “How on earth did they have images of me in that?” USA TODAY asked Baskin. “That’s why I filed the suit.”

Baskin and her husband are suing Royal Goode Productions and Netflix for including her in the show’s sophomore season. Baskin states that “they didn’t have permission to do this.” Netflix has said in court documents that the pair, who wed in 2004, “have no claim at all.”

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Two of the five new “Tiger King” episodes continue to explore the 1997 disappearance of Baskin’s first husband, Don Lewis, but the Baskins are hardly seen. Most footage appears to be from her YouTube channel and interviews with media outlets. The mystery surrounding Lewis’ disappearance is still a mystery.

The popular first season of “Tiger King” centered on the life of Joe Exotic (real name: Joseph Maldonado-Passage) – a man with an affinity for big cats, blonde mullets, guns and explosives – his life at Oklahoma’s Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park (referred to as the G.W. His hatred for Baskin (the founder of Tampa’s Big Cat Rescue sanctuary), and Zoo. He deemed her a threat to his livelihood through her advocacy of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which aims to abolish ownership of big cats as pets and the practice of cub petting. 

Baskin also received suspicion from “Tiger King”. She said she believed Lewis was on his way to Costa Rica, and that she suspected he might’ve suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Joe Exotic and others also said Baskin may have fed Lewis to his big cats. In the early moments of “Cage Fight,” Baskin faces graffiti implicating her as Lewis’ killer at Joe’s former zoo, which she was awarded and later sold. “If Carol (sic) killed her husband clap your hands,” the graffiti read.  

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Carole and Howard Baskin look for evidence of animal abuse and illegal activity at the former G.W. Zoo, once open in Wynnewood, Okla.

“It’s such a misperception that people have,” Baskin says of the notion she killed Lewis. “I think it was through clever editing of ‘Tiger King’ and lining up one animal abuser after another to back each other up with this false narrative that caused people to believe that. I’m sad that people fall for something so easily without doing any kind of research.”

Baskin says “Tiger King” was misrepresented as “the equivalent of ‘Blackfish,” the 2013 documentary examining the consequences of keeping orca whales in captivity. But the result, Baskin says, was a “dumpster fire.” 

After the March 2020 premiere, she and her husband watched all of its seasons together. “We didn’t even know the creator of Tiger King, as we’d never seen it before. That was far from what we were working on.

Baskin says she didn’t realize the power of the show until she began getting phone calls from “people just cursing and swearing and saying they wanted us dead.” Baskin claims she’s watched the series seven time and still doesn’t understand why people want to kill “the one who is trying to end this abuse of these large cats.”

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"Tiger King" star and former zoo owner Joe Exotic (real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage) feeds a tiger.

The calls came nonstop for three months, she says, and resumed after the release of the Season 2 trailer in October. Baskin states that “people have seen a trailer. All they can remember is how much hate they harbored me last year.” “So they want to hate on me again this year.”

Baskin claims that “Cage Fight,” which depicts Baskin’s life in a realistic way, is better than “Tiger King”. It’s “a bunch degenerate talking heads” that are trash-talking their target. “When you see ‘Carole Baskin’s Cage Fight,’ you’re actually in the trenches with me, digging up the evidence.”

Baskin hits out at Jeff Lowe during the “Cage Fight” opening. He took Joe’s G.W. over from Baskin. Zoo in the first season of “Tiger King.” Her team flies a drone over his Thackerville, Oklahoma, property, observing the conditions in which the animals are being kept. Baskin also explores the G.W. Zoo (at the time still in her possession), searching for evidence Lowe was involved in a criminal network of illegal buyers and buried animal skeletons, evidence that cats were killed.

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Jeff Lowe, who appeared in Netflix's hit "Tiger King," is a target in "Carole Baskin's Cage Fight" streaming on Discovery+.

Lowe, aware of the drone flying over his property, confronts Baskin’s investigators,  threatening to beat them up and implying he would destroy their camera in the sky: “I hear that drones get shot down a lot around here,” he says. So if you really want the thing to be intact, then I would keep it away from my property.

Baskin said that she felt a sense of danger during her crusade. “I’ve had shots fired so close to me before that I could actually hear the bullet whistling by. When I hear shots being fired, what I’m listening for is how close is the fire?” 

Joe Exotic’s malice was made a criminal offense by allegedly hiring Allen Glover, a zoo worker to murder Baskin. Glover claims that he did not intend to hurt Baskin. Joe also claimed that a $3,000 payment was made to Glover to pay for his leave from the zoo. Although Joe maintains his innocence in “Tiger King 2,” he was arrested in 2018 and found guilty of 19 counts, including attempted murder for hire, killing five tigers and the selling of lion and tiger cubs. In January 2020, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison, but a court this summer ordered his sentence be reduced.  

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Carole Baskin rides her bike through her animal sanctuary Big Cat Rescue, in Tampa, Fla.

Baskin says a locked prison cell is where Joe Exotic belongs: “I think anyone who breeds big cats for life in cages should have to spend some time in a cage to see what that’s like and what they’ve done.” 

In the second season finale, Joe expresses regret over holding animals in captivity: “After being (imprisoned) for three years, I know now how my animals felt. “I’m embarrassed of myself. 

Baskin hopes her documentary will be viewed by many viewers.The same message can be taken away.

She said, “I hope people understand when they see ‘Carole Baskin’s Cage Fight’ how none of this breeding serves any conservation value.” It is impossible to free tigers from cages, so it’s important that they are protected in nature. The whole idea of displaying cubs is a way to make money for those who breed them. This isn’t about conservation. 

Source: USAToday.com

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