Carole Baskin says ‘dead’ husband was found alive in Costa Rica

Don Lewis disappeared in 1997 at the age of 59 and would be 84 if he’s still alive today.

Somehow, in 2023, we’re still getting more updates from the Tiger King universe, with Carole Baskin amazingly claiming her husband isn’t dead after all. The animal rights activist declared that her missing ex-husband, Don Lewis, was found alive in Costa Rica, but the discovery is just now going viral over a year later.

During a resurfaced November 2021 interview on This Morning, Baskin alleged that her ex, who was declared legally dead in 2002 after disappearing a few years before, was actually alive and well. She revealed that she’d been contacted by officials at the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Homeland Security: “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 at least since back then.”

Lewis disappeared in 1997 at the age of 59 and would be 84 if he’s still alive today. “I don’t know how it is that Homeland Security says he’s alive and well in Costa Rica but I’m glad to hear it,” explained Baskin. “I didn’t think he was capable of supporting himself. He took about a million dollars down to Costa Rica, I had agreed to let him do that so he could prove to himself that he could make a living.”

After Baskin shared her story on the series that followed the trials and tribulations of incarcerated big-cat keeper Joe Exotic, many people thought that Baskin had something to do with her ex’s disappearance. Some even launched into some outlandish conspiracy theories, including a claim that she was involved in a murder-for-hire plot.

Exotic — who is now serving a 21-year sentence for hiring a hitman to take Baskin out — also alleged that she had fed her ex to the tigers at Big Cat Rescue. Baskin was so traumatized by it all that she joined a “secret” support group for celebrities going through similar things. 

Meanwhile, the attorney for Baskin’s arch-nemesis Exotic shot down the new claims on Wednesday in a statement. “During the filming of Tiger King, detailed efforts were made to find Don Lewis. They all failed. He is not alive,” lawyer John M. Phillips posted on Facebook. “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, setup, 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.”

Baskin was not a part of Tiger King Season 2 and has spoken out about her disdain for the narrative spun by Netflix, alleging she had something to do with Lewis’ disappearance. “I told them to lose my number,” Baskin told Page Six in May 2021, six months before the show was released. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

“Season 2, as expected and indicated in the Trailer, continues to do everything they can to falsely convince the viewer that Carole was involved in Don Lewis’s disappearance,” Baskin told the Los Angeles Times in a statement in 2021. They also alleged that the second season created a new “surge” of social media haters against the animal rights activist.

WriterChris Saunders
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