Mar 31, 2023 - News

Carole Baskin to sell Tampa "Tiger King" sanctuary Big Cat Rescue

Carole Baskin wearing a cheetah print shirt and a purple flower crown posing next to a tiger behind a wire fence

Carole Baskin and a tiger at Big Cat Rescue. Photo: Courtesy of Carole Baskin

Carole Baskin's Big Cat Rescue is shutting down.

Yes, but: Baskin and her husband and co-owner, Howard, say it's a good thing.

Driving the news: The Baskins will send most of the animals they care for to an Arkansas refuge on Monday. The few remaining big cats will live the rest of their lives in Tampa and Big Cat Rescue will eventually be sold, the couple announced this week.

  • The couple credits the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which they advocated for last year. The new federal law bans the private ownership of big cats and the practice of cub petting.

What they're saying: Howard Baskin wrote in the announcement that the couple's goal was always to "'put ourselves out of business,' meaning that there would be no big cats in need of rescue and no need for the sanctuary to exist."

  • "What this means, importantly, is that over the next decade almost all of this privately held population of cats will pass away," he wrote. "Within a few years after that they will all be gone and there will be no more cats living in miserable conditions in backyards."

The big picture: Big Cat Rescue has been a Tampa institution for 30 years.

  • The "Tiger King" documentary captivated millions of people in 2020, and Carole Baskin shot to fame. She competed in "Dancing with the Stars" later that year.
  • Kate McKinnon played her in a Peacock miniseries last year based on her feud with "Tiger King" Joe Exotic.

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