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Carole Baskin Interview: Big Cats, COVID-19, and Cage Fight


Carole Baskin, owner of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida, has been through a lot since “Tiger King,” including her lawsuit against Netflix filed Nov. 1. People have awaited the return for Baskin, and they have an opportunity to see her again in her new show, “Carole Baskin’s Cage Fight.”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, how has running an animal rescue changed?

Big Cat Rescue closed its doors on March 15, which is when COVID-19 was getting bad in Florida. They have not reopened since then, said Baskin, which is causing them about $1 million revenue loss per year. 

“We have to raise somewhere between $3.5 and $4 million a year to take care of the cats,” said Baskin.

Baskin said another factor is fewer people are contacting Congress in regards to the “Big Cat Public Safety Act.” At the end of the guided tours at Big Cat Rescue, those on the tour are encouraged to contact their local member of Congress about the bill. They have about 27,000 visitors a year, said Baskin. 

“Having that huge number of people contacting Congress was a huge benefit to our bill. Now those people aren’t here, so it is harder for people to make that call online than when they are standing right in front of that cat feeling like ‘I need to do something to fix this’.”

Photo by Carole Baskin-Big Cat Rescue

How can college students get involved with animal conservation?

The first thing is that they make it easy through the website, where they can contact their local members of Congress via Tweet, email, or phone call, said Baskin. 

“The second thing they can do is vote,” said Baskin. “The people who make these decisions are put in office by who we vote for. It’s really important that you get out there and cast your vote for people that care about the environment and that care about animals.”

Baskin said to hold people accountable when they post pictures or videos of them petting or handling a wild cat on social media. “Letting people get away with showboating and getting praise for that kind of bad behavior just encourages more of it,” said Baskin.

“Even my daughter and I who have been doing this for 30 years, we do not touch the cats because it sends the wrong message,” said Baskin. 

How has your life changed since “Tiger King” came out?

“Its changed our lives dramatically, especially the first few months after the show came out,” said Baskin. “It seemed like they did their level best to make it look like sanctuaries and zoos were the same.” 

She went on to say, “The only thing we have in common is cats in cages. The reason that they are in cages is totally different.”

Photo by Carole Baskin-Big Cat Rescue

Baskin said they received a lot of hate after “Tiger King” came out. She also feels that Big Cat Rescue was falsely portrayed when it comes to the cages they use. She said that most of the cages shown in “Tiger King” were smaller cages that they use for feeding, training, and giving medical attention to the cats. 

“Our smallest cage is like 10 times bigger than anything you saw at Joe Exotic’s zoo.” 

She said that she and the cats received death threats. Even people who claim to be animal lovers sent the cats death threats, which Baskin says the fact that they have been working for decades to stop big cats in cages was lost on them.

What is your new show about and what do you hope to accomplish through “Carole Baskin’s Cage Fight”?

“I’m very excited about ‘Carole Baskins Cage Fight’ because it is what we really do,” Baskin said, “If people want to know the kind of abusers we are up against, and the perils, and the drama, and all the stuff that we have to go through to gather evidence of their abuse.”

Photo by Carole Baskin-Big Cat Rescue

Baskin also said that it has been frustrating for years to get law enforcement to do anything about these animal abusers. “What we did see after ‘Tiger King’ is that both the regulating agencies like the USDA and the US Fish and Wildlife Services all of a sudden are doing a much better job than they did before. I think they were embarrassed by the fact that they had let these horrible situations go on so long.”

“I’m happy to see law enforcement finally taking action, but ‘Carole Baskin’s Cage Fight’ will be a whole lot more of that…We’re hoping to put the pressure on and finally put an end to breeding big cats for life in cages.”

Baskin recommended that people go to because it is her “vision for how we can all enjoy wild animals in the wild and create a system of supporting people who live near wild animals in order to have them be the people who protect them so we can all experience them where they belong.”

To learn more about Carole Baskin and Big Cat Rescue, you can visit their website at

Her new show, “Carole Baskin’s Cage Fight”, premieres November 13 on Discovery+.

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  • L

    Lauren KramerNov 4, 2021 at 6:25 pm

    I’ve been a supporter of BCR for years and seeing the vitriol and false information that Tiger King spread broke my heart. Carole, Howard and all of the staff, keepers and volunteers work so hard to provide the rescued cats with the best care. They are constantly working on ways to keep the cats happy and engaged.

    They are also totally transparent about the health issues that come with an increasingly geriatric population. Nothing is held back and whatever is needed, from CT scans at the veterinary college to individual medication regimes, it’s all provided.

    Thank you for the article.

  • R

    Rita PavolkaNov 4, 2021 at 4:49 pm

    I deeply appreciate all the work and love you and your family and staff put into saving big cats from hideous lives. Thank you!

  • A

    Ashton BonneyNov 4, 2021 at 1:44 pm


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Carole Baskin Interview: Big Cats, COVID-19, and Cage Fight