Entertainment & Arts

Tiger King's Carole Baskin faces lawsuit from family of husband Don Lewis

Carole Baskin and a lion in a cage Image copyright Netflix
Image caption Carole Baskin runs the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary

Tiger King star Carole Baskin is facing a lawsuit from the family of her former husband Don Lewis, who disappeared in 1997 and is presumed dead.

Lewis's family are also offering a $100,000 (£76,300) reward for information about what happened to him.

A lawyer for the family has filed the lawsuit in an attempt to force Baskin to give evidence on the record.

Lewis disappeared a day before a scheduled trip to Costa Rica, and was declared legally dead in 2002.

Lewis and Baskin started an animal sanctuary together in Tampa, Florida, which later became Big Cat Rescue Corporation. They were married at the time of his disappearance, but he had filed for a restraining order against her two months earlier.

'Unsavoury lies'

Theories about what happened to him formed part of the hit Netflix series, including suggestions that Baskin, who received most of his $6m (£4.5m) estate, was responsible for his disappearance.

She has vehemently denied having anything to do with it. "The unsavoury lies are better for getting viewers," she has said.

Baskin told investigators of reported sightings in Costa Rica, and said he had been involved with local gangsters there. No-one has ever been arrested over his disappearance.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Lewis's youngest daughter Gale Rathbone referred to the renewed interest in the case brought on by the series.

'Search for closure and truth'

"Amazingly, our little family tragedy has become your tragedy," she said. "Our search for closure and truth has become your mission also.

"We all know by now that [Lewis] was not a perfect man. But do only the perfect among us deserve justice?"

Baskin told The Associated Press: "It's been my policy not to discuss pending litigation until it's been resolved.

"I had told some news outlets that I thought the press conference on 10 Aug was just a publicity stunt, but at that time was not aware there would be pending litigation."

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