‘Tiger King’ Star Carole Baskin Shares Her Solution for Ending the Abuse of Big Cats

Carole Baskin may have joined the season 29 cast of Dancing With the Stars, but the Tiger King star hasn’t forgotten about big cats. Showbiz Cheat Sheet spoke with Baskin over the phone about her plan to stop the abuse of big cats worldwide. 

Carole Baskin and Pasha Pashkov
CAROLE BASKIN and PASHA PASHKOV | Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

Carole Baskin danced to raise awareness about big cats 

Baskin was delighted to be on season 29 cast of Dancing With the Stars. Her goal was to draw attention to the Big Cat Act, federal legislation that will end the ownership of big cats as pets.

Each week she danced, Baskin urged DWTS fans to call senators and ask for their support with this legislation.

“The one thing that we just aren’t anywhere close to ending is keeping big cats in zoos,” Baskin said. “What I’m most hoping [my participation on] Dancing with the Stars will do is give me a platform for sending people to our website where people can contact Congress.” 

‘Tiger King’ fans misunderstand what Big Cat Rescue does for tigers

Tiger King exposed the dark underworld of big cat trade in the United States. Baskin is still feeling the effects of Tiger King. That’s because many people don’t know the difference between her cat sanctuary, private possessions, and zoos.

“What most of those people hate me for is the fact that we have tigers in cages and we’re against breeding when the tiger is so close to extinction,” Baskin explained. “[That’s because] zoos have convinced people that breeding more tigers is saving them in the wild. And that’s just not true. It’s actually causing their extinction.” 

While Baskin still gets angry calls — sometimes in the middle of the night — she’s glad to have participated in Tiger King. “All of that hate and vitriol that I’ve received as a result of Tiger King is mostly from people who actually agree with our point of view, they just don’t know it,” she said. “Once we can educate them about why it is we need to stop captive breeding in order to save [the tigers], then they become some of the biggest advocates.” 

Carole Baskin is using virtual and augmented reality to save big cats 

“When my husband and I were on our honeymoon, I wrote a 25-year plan for ending the abuse of big cats,” Baskin said. She felt she couldn’t tell establishments like zoos that they couldn’t have cats in cages without having a backup plan. Her alternative involves computer-generated tigers and virtual reality. 

After coming up with the concept, Baskin started shopping around for someone capable of building a computer generated tiger. That turned into Baskin searching for someone who could create an entire virtual reality game.

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“The concept of the game is that you go into this tiger reserve and a tracker meets up with you [and teaches] you how to track a tiger in the wild,” Baskin explained. “As you go through [the game,] it’s educating you on what the cat’s life is like in the wild [versus] what it’s like in captivity.”

The game can be played exclusively through the SpringboardVR Marketplace. Plus, Baskin also created an augmented reality (AR) zoo. Big Cat Rescue partnered with VidPic AR to offers a virtual zoo experience. Visitors can see digital lions, tigers, and several other wild cats at the world’s first AR zoo. 

Baskin has opened two AR zoo locations in Florida — one in Citrus Park Mall and one in Plantation Mall. With plans to open more AR zoos in the future, Baskin is one step closer to ending big cats’ abuse.