Remember when Netflix’s Tiger King aired somehow both two months and nine years ago? Since becoming a household name in March 2020, Carole Baskin — the founder of Big Cat Rescue, Joe Exotic’s nemesis, and maybe an alleged murderer, depending on who you ask — has only increased her efforts to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act. The act would add restrictions on who can own, trade, and exhibit exotic cats Now, the Tiger Queen is appearing on CNN and imploring Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn to sign onto the act in light of a recent case involving a tiger on the loose in Houston.
On Monday, May 10, Houston police captured 26-year-old Victor Hugo Cuevas, who is accused of running from authorities and housing a Bengal tiger. Although Cuevas is still in custody, the tiger’s whereabouts are still unknown, the police announced on Twitter. “This has become kind of commonplace in Texas, and so I really hope that Senators Cruz and Cornyn will sign onto the Big Cat Public Safety Act, because if they had last year when the house passed this bill… the Senate didn’t bring it up for a vote,” Baskin said. “If it had passed last year, this wouldn’t have happened this time.”
Baskin went on to warn people not just about the loose Texas tiger, but also about Cuevas himself. Cuevas was out on bond for an unrelated murder charge from 2017, but now, county prosecutors are reportedly looking to revoke that bond. According to CNN, Jose Ramos, who lives next door to Cuevas, had “no idea a man charged with murder was living next door to him in this family-friendly community,” especially a man housing a large endangered animal. Cuevas’ attorney, Mike Elliot, said that Cuevas was simply housing the tiger, who really belonged to an exotic pet dealer named Deandre.
“I am extremely worried about what happens with this tiger and the people around it, because the people who were involved in buying and selling and transporting this tiger have proven that they are absolutely reckless individuals with no concern for the people around them or for the animal involved,” Baskin told CNN. “The kind of people who own tigers are really dangerous, reckless people.”
Some might think it's ironic that Carole Baskin is the one warning people about owning tigers — and warning people about an accused murderer.
Baskin has made it her mission to prevent “dangerous, reckless” individuals from owning big cats: On Tiger King, viewers watched her relentlessly attempt to shut down Joe Exotic’s zoo in Wynnewood, OK. There has been a lot of confusion as to whether Baskin’s sanctuary is actually more humane than Exotic’s, though, since both were “taking advantage of exotic animals to make money,” as producer Rick Kirkham noted.
But Baskin has also been accused of murder. Some people, Exotic included, believe she played a role in the mysterious 1997 disappearance of her husband, Don Lewis. Lewis’ daughter, Donna Pettis, also seems to believe that Baskin was somehow involved. And although Baskin has repeatedly denied any claims that she killed Lewis, accusing the filmmakers behind Tiger King of spreading “salacious and sensational” lies, she has been consistent about using her platform to pass the Big Cat Public Safety Act.