Carole Baskin, one of the key figures in Netflix's hit docuseries "Tiger King," apparently fell victim to a prank by two YouTubers who pretended to book her for an interview with Jimmy Fallon.
YouTubers Josh Pieters and Archie Manners reached out to Baskin posing as producers booking interviews for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" over the video-conferencing platform Zoom, according to Variety.
Late night programs like Fallon's have had to eschew their traditional in-studio format, which runs afoul of social distancing guidelines necessitated by the global coronavirus pandemic. As such, a number of late night hosts have taken to interviewing guests via platforms like Zoom and Skype.
Pieters and Manners' video "We Tricked Carole Baskin into Giving Us Her First Interview Since Tiger King" currently has over 3 million views and is on YouTube's trending list. The prank also involved using a soundboard prepped with recorded questions Fallon has asked guests in the past — making Baskin think she was actually being interviewed by Fallon, whom she was told by the pranksters she wouldn't be able to see.
In the faked interview, Baskin mostly spoke about how she was taking care of the cats at her Big Cat Rescue animal sanctuary during the ongoing pandemic, while also urging passage of the Big Cat Safety Act — the bill she also championed in the Netflix docuseries that would restrict ownership of big cats and end cub-petting operations, which animal rights activists say incentivizes breeding.
Baskin and her husband have both heavily criticized the docuseries that centered them in the public's eye, taking special issue with an episode that focused on the unsolved disappearance of Baskin's ex-husband Don Lewis. The episode interviews a number of Lewis' family members and law enforcement officials who speculate Baskin had a hand in his disappearance, which Baskin vehemently denies.
“[The docuseries] has had the sole goal of being as salacious and sensational as possible to draw viewers,” Carole Baskin wrote on her website in response to "Tiger King."
Howard Baskin called the filmmakers behind the docuseries "the biggest con artists of them all" and said they were "devoid of integrity, don’t care about the animals, and clearly, clearly, do not care about the truth."
Carole Baskin has also said she's received death threats since the docuseries' premiere, sharing a number of threatening voicemails on her Facebook.
For their part, "Tiger King's" filmmakers contend that Baskin chose to speak at length about her personal life and Lewis' disappearance.
“Carole talked about her personal life, her childhood, abuse from her first and second husband, the disappearance of her ex, Don Lewis. She knew that this was not just about … it’s not a 'Blackfish' because of the things she spoke about,” co-director Eric Goode told The Los Angeles Times in an interview.
And Baskin's pet project of passing the Big Cat Safety Act has drawn some famous supporters, with actors like Glenn Close and Joaquin Phoenix signing a pledge to support the bill.
Although Baskin is a big part of "Tiger King," the docuseries mainly focuses on the antics and downfall of bombastic Oklahoma zookeeper Joe Exotic, who is currently serving 22 years in prison following convictions for violating the Endangered Species Act and attempting to hire a hitman to kill Baskin.
"Tiger King" is currently available to stream on Netflix.
Get all your true crime news from Oxygen. Coverage of the latest true crime stories and famous cases explained, as well as the best TV shows, movies and podcasts in the genre. And don't miss our own podcast, Martinis & Murder!