TIGER King’s Carole Baskin says she was shocked to discover her ex-husband Don Lewis had ‘a wife and 23 girlfriends’ when they began dating – because they were having sex “two or three times a day,” The Sun can reveal.
The animal rights activist, who has slammed wild theories that she played a part in her ex’s mysterious disappearance in 1997, has told a podcast she was lied to when she first met Lewis and he gave her a fake name.
Carole Baskin says her ex Don Lewis initially lied about who he was and didn’t tell her about his wifeCredit: Facebook
She insists she was also unaware he was still married to his first wife, Gladys Lewis Cross, with the couple sharing three daughters and an adopted son – and only found out recently there were other women.
Carole said: “When I met him, he told me his name was Bob Martin. And that he was just a poor lot boy that worked for this really evil guy, Don Lewis,” she said.
“So when I would go to the lot where he worked, that we had a little trailer, a little RV in the back that we would meet in and he told me I’d have to hide under the dashboard as he drove me in and out of the lot, because we were hiding from Don.
“Well, I didn’t know, for two or three years that we were hiding from Don’s wife, not Don, and that Bob Martin was Don.
Property investor Don Lewis mysteriously in 1997 and his body has never been foundCredit: Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
“What I didn’t know was that he had all of these other girlfriends,” she went on.
“I learned in Tiger King that his wife said he had 23 other girlfriends, and I’m like ’23?!’
“And we were having sex like two or three times a day – when does he have time?!”
Lewis disappeared a day before a scheduled trip to Costa Rica, and Carole became an international hate figure after the success of Tiger King, with many believing she “fed him to the tigers.”
She has never been arrested or charged for any part in her ex-husband’s case and he was declared legally dead back in 2002.
The 59-year-old TV star is now with her third husband, Howard Baskin, and the pair run the Big Cat Rescue together in FloridaCredit: Refer to Caption
Carole said: “The closest I ever came to closure, he disappeared in 1997 and there was a conservatorship that was put in place for the next five years.
“And at the end of that period of time, the conservatorship ended by filing a death certificate.
“I didn’t see a copy of it until like 2002, but I remember I was actually sitting here at this desk when I opened it and I looked out the window and it was the middle of the day.
“And it was dark by the time I came back from wherever it was that I had gone. And then I just cried for days. Probably two or three days, I just cried and cried.
“I could not stop crying. And then it was like, okay, it’s over. And it felt like that was the closest I’m probably ever going to get any kind of closure on that.”
Carole says she’s faced death threats since her husband Don’s disappearance and she has ‘made peace with it’Credit: Refer to Caption
Carole has opened up about her time with Don and the backlash from Tiger King in a new chat for an episode of the podcast, ‘Katie Piper’s Extraordinary People’, released tomorrow on Apple and Spotify.
She revealed she has also been asked to write a memoir but is not yet ready, despite the worldwide interest in her story, including her past war with former zoo owner Joe Exotic, who was jailed for his part in a murder-to-hire plot after a long-running feud with Carole.
“I’ve been asked to write a book, but I held off on that because I feel like my story’s not over,” she said.
“I’m either going to end the abuse of big cats in captivity, or they’re going to kill me at which point either of those, then I’m done, but I’m not done until then.”
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office launched a hotline for new information into Don’s case after Tiger King became a hitCredit: Splash News
Carole says she has received numerous death threats since 1998 and the attention from the Netflix doc pushed her to keep the gates of her Big Cat Rescue center in Florida closed, along with the struggles of the pandemic.
“On March the 15th of 2020, we shuttered our gates to visitors because of the Covid threat,” she said.
“And then on March 20th, five days later, Tiger King came out and brought every crazy you can possibly imagine threatening to kill me, threatening to burn the place to the ground, threatening to kill the cats.
“And so we had a double reason not to have the gates open. And still Covid is just raging out there and worse than ever.
Carole and husband Howard was too scared to re-open their rescue center amid a backlashCredit: BackGrid
“So there’s no end in sight to be able to open the Gates, but we have to raise three and a half to $4million a year to take care of our cats.
“And that was over a million dollars worth of our revenue just gone. And so I had to let go half of my staff, my husband and I didn’t take a paycheck for the first eight months after that.”
Carole and her husband, Howard Baskin, are finally able to take a paycheck from their work, and she says she’s “come to peace” with people threatening her life, but she’s still angry about the way she was portrayed in Tiger King.
“It was done in such a deceitful, deceitful way,” she said.
“When I saw Tiger King, what I saw was they would ask one question and then they’d use my answer from something totally different to answer that question.
“To make it look like I had said something just totally cruel or inappropriate.
“And there’s just nothing more deceitful than that in calling yourself a documentary.”
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