‘Tiger King’: Florida sheriff hopes Netflix’s insanely popular new series will generate new leads in Don Lewis’ disappearance

‘Tiger King’: Florida sheriff hopes Netflix’s insanely popular new series will generate new leads in Don Lewis’ disappearance
Don Lewis (Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister)

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A Florida sheriff is asking for new leads in the disappearance of the former husband of a big cat sanctuary owner featured in the new Netflix series “Tiger King.”

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister posted on his personal Twitter account Monday that the popularity of the seven-part documentary made it a good time to ask for new leads in the 1997 disappearance of Jack "Don" Lewis.

He was married to Carole Baskin, who runs Big Cat Rescue near Tampa.

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Lewis vanished shortly before a planned business trip to Costa Rica, investigators said shortly after his disappearance.

His van was found near a Pasco County airport.

Deputies searched the wildlife sanctuary he ran with his wife, but he was never found in Florida or Costa Rica.

“Tiger King” tells the story of an Oklahoma zookeeper named Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as “Joe Exotic," who was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison this year after being convicted in an unsuccessful murder-for-hire plot against Baskin.

He was upset that Baskin, an outspoken critic of him and his zoo, won a million-dollar civil judgment against him.

The documentary extensively covered Maldonado-Passage's repeated accusations that Baskin killed her husband and possibly fed him to her tigers.

Baskin has never been charged with any crime and released a statement refuting the accusations made in the series.

“Tiger King” quickly became Netfix’s top show following its March 20 release.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office confirmed last week that the Lewis case is still active and open.

Former Oklahoma wildlife refuge owner Joseph Maldonado-Passage, left, was sentenced Jan. 22, 2020, to 22 years in federal prison for plotting to kill Carole Baskin, right, a Tampa-based animal rights activist. Maldonado-Passage's feud with Baskin, his crimes and his career exploits are the subjects of a wildly popular Netflix limited series, "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness."
Former Oklahoma wildlife refuge owner Joseph Maldonado-Passage, left, was sentenced Jan. 22, 2020, to 22 years in federal prison for plotting to kill Carole Baskin, right, a Tampa-based animal rights activist. Maldonado-Passage's feud with Baskin, his crimes and his career exploits are the subjects of a wildly popular Netflix limited series, "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness." (Netflix)

See a map of Big Cat Rescue below:

See a map of The Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park below: