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  1. Life & Culture

Tiger King: Read our stories on Don Lewis, Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic from Netflix’s hit series

If Tiger King’s true crime story pulled you in, dive deeper into our newspaper archives.

Netflix’s new documentary series Tiger King uses images of Tampa Bay Times newspaper headlines to tell the tale of Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin and the fights, crimes and eccentricities of various “animal people,” especially those in the big cat world.

We’ve rounded up some of our previous coverage of people who were featured in the true crime series, filmed partly in Tampa, so you can read deeper on the history.

Here are some stories from the archives about Baskin’s Tampa sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue, and other local characters like animal trapper Vernon Yates, starting with the stories relating to the Joe Exotic murder-for-hire case and working back through time.

Keep in mind that Big Cat Rescue was once called Wildlife on Easy Street, and Carole Baskin was known as Carole Lewis.

Joe Exotic’s plot against Carole Baskin

March 19, 2020: Joe Exotic tried to kill the founder of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa. Now it’s a Netflix documentary

Jan. 22, 2020:Joe Exotic’ sentenced in plot to arrange killing of Big Cat Rescue CEO in Tampa

April 3, 2019: Oklahoma zookeeper convicted on murder for hire plot against Big Cat Rescue founder

Sept. 18, 2018: ‘Murder for hire’ plot against Tampa’s Big Cat Rescue CEO leads to arrest of Oklahoma candidate for governor

Carole Baskin and Don Lewis’ disappearance

A clipping from a 1997 edition of the Tampa Bay Times, then the St. Petersburg Times. [ Tampa Bay Times ]

March 26, 2020: Carole Baskin says 'Tiger King’ doc is full of lies

Nov. 19, 2007: The Big Cat Fight: Activism, murder accusations lurk behind pet project

Aug. 23, 1998: Mysterious millionaire still missing

July 3, 1998: Benefit is planned for crippled lion

Oct. 18, 1997: Trail of missing millionaire is all dead ends

Sept. 19, 1997: Missing millionaire worries family

Sept. 18, 1997: Missing millionaire may be in Costa Rica

Aug. 27, 1997: Animal sanctuary owner is reported missing

Joe Exotic’s connection to Dade City’s Wild Things

Feb. 25, 2018: Dade City’s Wild Things owner plotted tiger removal to defy judge, PETA claims

July 27, 2017: Is cuddling tiger cubs conservation? Experts warn it leads to too many tigers languishing in cages

July 18, 2017: Dade City’s Wild Things moves tigers to Oklahoma during court battle with PETA

Stories featuring Big Cat Rescue

Nov. 26, 2019: 3 tigers rescued from a Guatemala circus step into Tampa’s Big Cat Rescue

Sept. 23, 2013: Reise, an 18-year-old cougar, latest addition to Big Cat Rescue

Oct. 21, 2011: Tigers by the trailer load: 3 big Texas cats needed a ride to new digs.

Dec. 16, 2006: Cuddly pet or wild animal

Aug. 27, 2005: Big cats get to expand den

Aug. 25, 2005: For the love of big cats: 170 cats at Big Cat Rescue have not one vet to care for them, but two.

Vernon Yates, animal trapper featured in ‘Tiger King’

Aug. 2, 2019: An exotic cat was caught after breaking into a Florida home

Oct. 24, 2012: Animal control workers capture Tampa Bay’s Mystery Monkey

June 18, 2012: Wildlife trapper, parrot owner in dispute over Houdini-like parrot

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