Carole Baskin is embracing the "Eye of the Tiger" as she prepares to make her Dancing With the Stars debut Monday with a paso doble to the Survivor song. The controversial Tiger King subject's big cat-inspired premiere night look was revealed just hours before Season 29 of the ABC show kicked off at 8 p.m. ET, making its grand return with a socially-distanced season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Dressed in a red long-sleeve gown with a tiger print overlay and her signature flower crown, paired with a cartoon tiger face mask, the Big Cat Rescue founder posed for a reveal photo Monday on the DWTS Instagram, which couldn't resist a clever pun in the caption. "We need a minute to Baskin the glory of this dress!" the show's account captioned the photo, asking fans to tune in to see Baskin's dance with her yet-to-be-revealed pro partner.
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Also dancing on the premiere night will be Baskin's competitors, including former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe, performing the cha-cha to Lady Gaga's "Stupid Love," and Backstreet Boys member AJ McLean, dancing a jive to "Blinding Lights" by The Weeknd. There will be no elimination during the first week of competition, and the judges' scores will be added to the second week's point total to determine the first pair to leave the ballroom.
After being implicated by Tiger King's Joe Exotic in the disappearance of her former husband, Don Lewis, Baskin said she hopes being on Dancing With the Stars will draw attention away from what she has denounced as ridiculous accusations and put the spotlight back on animal welfare. "That's why I feel so much pressure to stay in this competition for as long as I possibly can," she told E! News. "Because every single week, I hope to be giving that message in front of people that these cats don't belong in cages, and we have to save them in the wild before they disappear completely."
Baskin said her life had been a "nightmare" since the Netflix documentary debuted after her casting was announced on Good Morning America. "The longer my partner and I can stay in the running and in the competition it will keep the cats forefront in the viewer's eye and to me, that was where Tiger King missed the ball - it really should have been focused on the animals," she said.