Joe Exotic: Tigers, Lies & Cover-Up review: The search for Don Lewis

Joe Exotic. Tiger King. Image Courtesy of NETFLIX
Joe Exotic. Tiger King. Image Courtesy of NETFLIX /
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Joe Exotic: Tigers, Lies & Cover-Up
Tigers from Joe Exotic (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images) /

Joe Exotic: Tigers, Lies & Cover-Up airs this Sunday on the ID Channel at 9 p.m. It is one wild ride with Team Tiger to try and find the body of Carole Baskin’s missing husband, Don Lewis to set the King free.

Although Joe Exotic: Tigers, Lies & Cover-Up doesn’t premiere until the weekend, we were fortunate enough to preview this ID Channel documentary. Just to recap, for those readers that are unfamiliar with the saga of Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage (a.k.a. “Joe Exotic” the subject of the insanely successful Netflix series), he was the owner-operator of the now defunct Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park (G.W. Zoo) in Oklahoma.

A tribute to his beloved brother, Garold who was killed in a tragic car accident, the Park made national news when Joe started garnering attention from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2006 for violations such as inadequate veterinary care for his animals as well as his enclosures not being properly sanitized. For a while he was out of commission due to having his license suspended but before long, he was back in business.

According to Texas Monthly, his flamboyant personality coupled with the success of his road shows caused his revenue stream to explode thanks to public donations. Joe Exotic was becoming a brand with a bar, a restaurant, merchandise and his own YouTube and web shows.

He even ran for President in 2016. Throughout his rise to fame, one person kept haunting him, Carole Baskin, the Chief Executive Officer of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. She was his most vocal critic about the way he treated his animals.

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A legendary feud akin to the Hatfields and McCoys became increasingly volatile as insults and accusations were hurled between the two parties. There was one red flag that Joe kept on raising and that was concerning the fate of Carole’s first husband.

Baskin married Don Lewis in 1991 after carrying on a raging affair with him for years. At first, they seemed to have an ideal marriage but then the cracks started appearing. Even their love of exotic animals couldn’t hold their crumbling union together.

After allegations of abuse and death threats, Don Lewis disappeared one day in 1997, never to return. Interestingly enough, no one really investigated the matter because there was no evidence suggesting foul play. It was like he never existed.

However, that isn’t how Joe saw it. He started alleging that Carole had her husband killed and ground up. His body fed to her tigers.

Of course, Baskin denied this but yet the rumors persisted. Finally, everything culminated in Joe wanting to remove his rival from his life so he attempted to hire someone to kill her. In addition to that crime, he was also indicted on 17 other counts. 8 for trafficking illegal wildlife and 9 violations of the Endangered Species Act.

This past January, Joe was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison. This is where Joe Exotic: Tigers, Lies & Cover-up begins.