'Tiger King' star Carole Baskin claims Joe Exotic rivalry was 'fabricated' for Netflix show

Carole Baskin rose to fame rather quickly this year thanks to her infamous feud with her big cat rival Joe Exotic as documented on Netflix's widely popular docuseries "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness."

Carole Baskin, Joe Exotic

Baskin and Joe Exotic's (real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage) feud was perhaps the biggest takeaway from the viral series, making them both sudden household names for their differences surrounding the handling of tigers. On Wednesday, Baskin appeared on FOX Business' "Varney & Co.," where she touched on the heightened drama between her and the eccentric former zoo owner -- and according to the big cat enthusiast, the controversy between the two was falsified for the show.

"That was a freak show like nobody's ever seen," Baskin, 59, told host Ashley Webster.

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Joe Exotic is serving a 22-year prison term after being found guilty of participating in a murder-for-hire plot against Baskin. When the Big Cat Rescue owner was asked if she's heard from Exotic while he's behind bars, Baskin said no and claimed the two didn't really have as much communication as viewers would think.

Carole Baskin at Big Cat Rescue (Netflix)

"Joe and I had never, in fact, actually even had a conversation with each other prior to all of this. So the whole idea that was painted as this big feud between us was just fabricated for the purpose of this show," Baskin claimed.

She continued: "I did go after him because he's one of the people that I felt was abusing and exploiting big cats. I go after all the big guys and he was just one out of the dozen or so that are on the top of my list for places that need to stop abusing animals."

Baskin also weighed in on just how enthralled viewers were by the series. Netflix has reported that a whopping 64 million people tuned in since it debuted in March. She said she believes the coronavirus lockdowns impacted how big it became.

"I think it was a perfect storm that caused the popularity. We had all been locked in our rooms by Mother Mature March the 15th, and then on March 20 'Tiger King' came out. It was like a dumpster fire. You just couldn't look away from it."

While there's a lot of speculation about more seasons in the works, Baskin said she told Netflix to "lose my number" in past conversations about what's next.

Baskin added that her big cat sanctuary in Tampa, Fla., is "doing great" despite an obvious decline in visitors due to the global health crisis.

"The cats are getting as much or maybe more attention than they've ever gotten, because now that there are no tours we have a whole lot more time for doing things like singing for the cats and reading to the cats and making enrichment to their lives better in captivity, because that's the worst part of being stuck in a cage," she said.

A representative for Netflix did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.

For more, check out FOXBusiness.com.