Tiger King's Carole Baskin on Being Duped Into Interview: 'I Appreciate Their Cleverness'
"I was suspicious as we were doing it because the questions appeared taped. But had no idea it would turn out to be such a fun prank. It gave us a very welcome good laugh," a rep for Big Cat Rescue told Entertainment Tonight on Baskin's behalf. "I appreciate their cleverness and that they created their video in a way that I don't feel was in any way mean spirited."
On Sunday, British YouTubers Josh Pieters and Archie Manners released a YouTube video revealing they hoaxed Baskin into doing the interview by pretending to work for Jimmy Fallon and his late-night show, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
The pair lied to Baskin, telling her that their production company, Invisible Object, worked with Fallon to secure celebrity interviews for his show. They told her she would be interviewed by Fallon via a Zoom conference call, but in reality, they used sound bites from old Tonight Show clips to conduct the interview. (Reps for Fallon have not responded to PEOPLE's request for comment.)
In the video, Baskin said she agreed to do the interview after some encouragement from her daughter, Jamie. She also discussed how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted her animal sanctuary.
"Unfortunately, due to the loss of tourism revenue, we've had to let go of about half of our staff," she said. "Thankfully, all of our animal care is by volunteers, so the animals are still getting their daily care, but it means all of us are having to work double-time to make sure all of that happens."
Baskin also said the pandemic may put an end to her sanctuary tours: "After COVID-19, I just don't know if we are ever going to be able to do tours again."
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Baskin, who has repeatedly criticized the Netflix docuseries for spreading misinformation, previously spoke to the Tampa Bay Times in April, addressing the onslaught of backlash she has received since the premiere of Tiger King in March. The series explores her feud with Joseph "Joe Exotic" Maldonado-Passage and the disappearance of Baskin's ex-husband Don, which she denies knowing anything about.
"I've had to turn my phone off," Baskin told the outlet of the endless calls she said she receives from strangers. "I can't tell the real ones from the fake ones because they're always out of state numbers anyway."
Baskin also told the newspaper that when she first agreed to participate in the documentary, she was made to believe the project would focus on the exploitation of tiger breeding.
"I just feel so angry that people have totally missed the point," she said.
Tiger King producers have previously said Baskin "certainly wasn't coerced" to take part in the documentary.