The husband of Tiger King star Carole Baskin has said it is “nonsense” that she had anything to do with the disappearance of her former husband and claimed the couple received death threats that led to them carrying a gun in the car.
Howard Baskin said they felt “enormous disappointment” over the Netflix docu-series, which follows Joe Exotic, a mulleted, gun-toting, polygamist who presides over an Oklahoma zoo.
He is now serving a 22-year sentence in prison for plotting the murder of Ms Baskin, who is an animal rights activist and owner of Big Cat Rescue.
Her former husband Don Lewis went missing six years after the couple married in 1991 and he was legally declared dead in 2002.
Ms Baskin has repeatedly denied she had any involvement in his disappearance.
Mr Baskin told ITV’s Loose Women: “Initially it was extremely difficult.
“In my mind Tiger King had three overarching lies associated with it; one was that Joe is a sympathetic figure, who’s a victim.
“Another one was the way that mistreated Carole, made her to be the villain, and that sanctuaries like Big Cat Rescue are just like roadside zoos.
“Initially we were overwhelmed with hate mail to a degree that I would never have imagined.”
He added: “(We felt) enormous disappointment, and a feeling of betrayal, the people that told us they were making a (programme) that would expose the animal abuse, not something that was going to portray Carole the way they portrayed her.
“They’d even shown us a trailer and a sizzle reel where Carole was the hero.
“There was a text screen that said, ‘The one woman battling all these horrible men’ kind of a thing and that’s not the way it turned out.
“We had to organise our people to deal with massive social media negativity, really crazy stuff.
“Gradually that subsided and there’s been some real silver linings, despite its lack of effort to talk about the animal abuse, people became aware… there’s been some benefits from it and some fun things since.”
Discussing how Ms Baskin was portrayed in the series, Mr Baskin said: “They made her out to be a homewrecker and that she supposedly broke up this marriage and was a gold digger, and that she wants to be the last one standing. Which is ridiculous, we’ve always said we want to put ourselves out of business.
“And the nonsense about whether she was involved in the disappearance of her husband, they just turned everything to point toward that so people believed that.
“It was just very difficult.”
“We’re sitting there watching episode three saying, ’What the hell happened here?’ So it was a total shock.”
Asked about the death threats, he said: “There’s always been that issue, dealing with these people and of course there was the very serious threats from Joe trying to hire someone to kill Carole.
“We put on security around the house, we started carrying a pistol in our car when we drove around… you would be careful about the cars around you.”