Carole Baskin takes the dance floor

Lauren Runde, A&E Assistant Editor

Carole Baskin joins the cast of “Dancing with the Stars” for season 29 in hopes of bringing attention to large exotic cats and their mistreatment, while also showcasing who she really is. Baskin, 59, is known for being in the Netflix documentary series, “Tiger King”, which introduced many to the world of big cats in captivity. “Tiger King” opened up a world of hate for Baskin, who after the show, many suspected of murdering her first husband, Don Lewis, who disappeared in 1997. 

“I am not at all the person I was portrayed in ‘Tiger King’. I am not the money grubbing, gold-digging, murderous person that they portrayed. I am the type of person who will come after any person who is abusing animals . . . I just won’t stop until I find some legal way to make it stop,” the Big Cat Rescue founder Carole Baskin said in an interview with People

In her interview with People, Baskin says that she has been dealing with death threats and people attacking her for decades and she is fully focused on her journey with “Dancing with the Stars”. 

 “I believe that everything happens for a reason . . . no matter how horrible something may seem, there is something that I may not see that is right on the other side that is going to prove that this is what I needed in order to get to this next place,” Baskin tells People.

Baskin debuted in “Dancing with the Stars” with the song, “Eye of the Tiger” on September 14 on ABC Network. 

E! News discovered in an interview with Baskin that she almost avoided the opportunity to be on “Dancing with the Stars”, but after passing up multiple media opportunities since “Tiger King”, her daughter convinced her to rethink her decision. 

Baskin plans on putting the cats in the spotlight, and in return, feels pressured to stay in the competition for as long as possible. 

“Because every single week, I hope to be giving that message in front of people that these cats don’t belong in cages, and we have to save them in the wild before they disappear completely,” Baskin said in an interview with E! News.

Baskin told People that she had doubts about being able to perform well on the show, even with lots of training, but now, after rehearsals and with her debut, she thinks it could potentially work, adding that it is much easier than she thought it would be. 

Xavier senior Anna Schenkel watched the performance on September 14 and was very intrigued. 

“I thought that Carole Baskin did a pretty good job for never having danced before,” Schenkel said. “It was very entertaining and I am excited to watch her future performances.”

Baskin will perform next on September 22 on ABC Network.