SCHENECTADY — Howard Baskin, one of the subjects featured in Netflix’s eccentric “Tiger King,” has an Electric City connection.
He’s a Union College graduate. According to college officials, the Poughkeepsie native received his bachelor of science degree from Union in 1972.
That was decades before he became involved with the documentary series that’s been described by Variety as “messy yet compelling.”
“Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” quickly became one of the most popular series on Netflix since premiering on March 20, generating constant buzz on social media and ranking as one of the streaming service’s most-watched pieces of content.
Directed by Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklint, it delves into the life of Joe Exotic, a mulleted man with an odd, bedazzled wardrobe, who owned an Oklahoma zoo featuring tigers and other big cats.
Later — Spoiler alert! — he ends up in prison for his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot to kill Carole Baskin, an animal rights activist who is Howard’s wife.
Carole and Howard Baskin run Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit animal sanctuary in Florida. According to the organization's website, Howard Baskin is the secretary, treasurer and advisory board chairman of Big Cat Rescue.
Howard Baskin is perhaps the most even-keeled subject featured in the seven-part series, which also spends screen time exploring Exotic’s hunch that Carole Baskin had something to do with the disappearance of her first husband, Don Lewis.
That accusation led to a deluge of social media posts from viewers, including celebrity Kim Kardashian West who tweeted: “Wow the amount of texts I’ve gotten about Tiger King since I tweeted about it all have mentioned their belief that Carol killed her husband! What are your thoughts? Do you think Carol killed him?”
In response, Big Cat Rescue invited Kardashian to visit the sanctuary. Howard Baskin also recently posted a video that claimed he and Carole were misled by the directors of “Tiger King.”
“We trusted Eric and Rebecca when they told us that this documentary was going to be a meaningful piece of work that was going to be designed to expose the abuse that these poor cubs endured . . . and the miserable lives they lead in roadside zoos after that,” Howard Baskin said.
He goes on to say that the filmmakers didn’t focus on the lives of these big cats, but con artists like Joe Exotic.
"In my view, the biggest con artists of them all were Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin. I believe they are devoid of integrity, don't care about the animals and clearly, clearly do not care about the truth. As far as I can tell, their only goal was to make something as inflammatory and salacious as possible so that Netflix would pay them millions for it."