TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – The owners of the Florida-based sanctuary known for the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King” say they plan to move most of their big cats to a facility in Arkansas and eventually sell their 67 acres (27 hectares).
Howard Baskin wrote in a post on Big Cat Rescue’s website that he and his wife, Carole Baskin, have entered into an agreement with the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge to relocate most of their big cats to an accredited sanctuary in Arkansas.
“We have always said that our goal was to ‘put ourselves out of business,’ meaning there would be no big cats in need of rescue and no need for the sanctuary to exist,” Howard Baskin wrote in a post earlier this week.
Because a recent federal law and a change in industry practice reduced the size of the “cub petting” industry at zoos and roadside circuses, there were fewer big cats in need of care, Baskin said.
The cost per big cat to run the sanctuary, as its population has dropped from 100 to 41 cats, has more than doubled in recent years, making it “an increasingly inefficient use of donor funds per cat to run a facility like ours,” he wrote.
Big Cat Rescue, located near Tampa, and Carole Baskin have been the subject of a lot of attention following the release of the movie “Tiger King” in 2020. The streaming series starred 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 kill Carole Baskin.
Maldonado-Pasage was sentenced to 21 years in prison last year after a federal appeals court ruled that the prison sentence should be reduced.
“The Tiger King” spent much of its time focusing on the feud between Carole Baskin and Maldonado-Pasage, which included his accusations that Baskin was behind the disappearance of her ex-husband Don Lewis. Baskin denied this. She was also a contestant on the ABC television show “Dancing with the Stars.”