Carole Baskin just gave her first video interview since Netflix’s Tiger King debuted in March—after a pair of British YouTubers tricked her into thinking she was appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Perhaps even more surprising? The Big Cat Rescue founder has already seen the video, and says she’s fine with it.
YouTubers Josh Pieters and Archie Manners reached out to a number of celebrities, posing as a production company that books talent for various late night hosts. Baskin initially refused their request—until they assured her they would not ask anything about Tiger King.
During the interview, Pieters and Manners played various sound bites from old Fallon interviews—with Kat Dennings, about Cats, and, in one case, with a guest who had brought a live cat on the show—to make it seem like he was asking Baskin questions. They told her the series was filming from Fallon’s home, and that she wouldn’t be able to see him on the call.
Most of the interview centered on how Baskin and her Florida-based sanctuary have been holding up amid quarantine.
“My daughter and I still come into the sanctuary every day because we have to take care of all of the big cats here,” Baskin said, adding later, “Unfortunately, due to the loss of tourism revenue, we had to let go of about half of our staff, and thankfully, all of our animal care is done 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 that all of that happens.”
Baskin said the rescue was able to stock up on meat for the cats in their freezers, which can hold 20,000 pounds of food at a time. Still, she said, “After COVID-19 I just don’t know if we're ever going to be able to do tours again.”
And for those wondering if this clip is actually real, here’s the best possible proof: Baskin herself has confirmed it. Speaking with Us Weekly about the prank, she said there are no hard feelings.
“I was suspicious as we were doing it because the questions appeared taped,” Baskin told Us. “But had no idea it would turn out to be such a fun prank. It gave us a very welcome good laugh. I appreciate their cleverness and that they created their video in a way that I don’t feel was in any way mean-spirited.”
Now that’s one cool kitten.