TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The owners of a Florida-based sanctuary made famous by the Netflix docuseries, “ Tiger King, ” say they plan to move most of their big cats to an Arkansas facility and eventually sell their 67-acre (27-hectare) property.
Howard Baskin wrote in a post on Big Cat Rescue’s website that he and his wife, Carole Baskin, had entered into an agreement with Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge to move most of their big cats to the accredited sanctuary in Arkansas.
“”We have always said that our goal was 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,” Howard Baskin wrote earlier this week in the post.
Because recently passed federal law and a change in industry practices had reduced the size of the “cub petting” industry at roadside zoos and circuses, there were fewer big cats in need of caring, Baskin said.
The cost per big cat of running the sanctuary, as its population dropped from 100 to 41 cats, has more than doubled in the past several years, becoming “an increasingly inefficient use of donor funds per cat to operate a facility like ours,” he wrote.
Big Cat Rescue, located near Tampa, and Carole Baskin were the subject of much attention following the release of “Tiger King” in 2020. The streaming series starred gun-toting 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.
“Tiger King” spent much of its time focusing on the feud between Carole Baskin and Maldonado-Passage, which included accusations by him that Baskin was behind the disappearance of her ex-husband, Don Lewis. Baskin has denied that. She also was a contestant on the ABC television show, “Dancing with the Stars.”