Big Cat Rescue of ‘Tiger King’ Fame Plans to Sell Florida Property and Relocate Big Cats
Big Cat Rescue, the Florida-based sanctuary famous for its role in the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King,” is planning to move most of its big cats to an accredited sanctuary in Arkansas and eventually sell its 67-acre property. The owners, Howard and Carole Baskin, made the announcement on the Big Cat Rescue website, saying that their goal has always been to put themselves out of business by eliminating the need for sanctuaries to exist.
Howard Baskin noted that the recently passed federal law and a change in industry practices have resulted in a reduction in the size of the “cub petting” industry at roadside zoos and circuses, meaning that there are fewer big cats in need of rescue. As a result, the cost per big cat of running the sanctuary has more than doubled, making it an increasingly inefficient use of donor funds to operate a facility like theirs.
Big Cat Rescue, located near Tampa, and Carole Baskin gained widespread attention following the release of “Tiger King” in 2020. The documentary series centered on the feud between Carole Baskin and Oklahoma zookeeper Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic.” He was sentenced to 22 years in prison after killing five tigers and plotting to have Carole Baskin murdered.
Maldonado-Passage was resentenced to 21 years in prison last year after a federal appeals court ruled that the prison term should be shortened. The documentary spent much of its time focusing on the feud between Carole Baskin and Maldonado-Passage, including accusations by him that Baskin was behind the disappearance of her ex-husband, Don Lewis. Baskin has denied these allegations.
The move of Big Cat Rescue’s big cats to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas will allow the Baskins to focus on other animal welfare initiatives. The couple hopes to use the proceeds from the sale of their property to fund these efforts.