How one woman founded the campaign to save tigers

Written by By Magdalena Neihausen, CNN

Seventy-two-year-old Carole Baskin is known as “Tiger King” — an intimidating tiger and one of Britain’s most wanted animals after rescuing hundreds of wild felines from a scrapyard 10 years ago.

Over the years, the White Lioness rescued over 1,000 animals, almost all of which were in a poor state of health.

But as part of Animal Liberation Week, she announced that she’s now going to be leaving that role, that of a conservationist and animal lover, to work for the UK Ministry of Environment.

Carole Baskin, now 92, is famous for rescuing tigers. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Archive/PA Images via Getty Images

“My purpose has changed from rescuing to promoting welfare education, but tigers still remain part of my cause,” she told CNN in a phone interview.

The tiger enthusiast and animal lover has worked for the government for the past year-and-a-half — first as the “Stop Tiger Scourge” campaigner and now as the senior animal welfare advisor at the Ministry of Environment.

She’s responsible for developing education campaigns such as the Veganuary campaign, encouraging people to indulge in plant-based diets in January.

In addition to promoting awareness of animal welfare, she wants to raise more funds for tiger conservation.

“The tiger is under threat, tigers are suffering terribly and we’re not talking about the wild,” she says. “We have to do something because the only money coming in is from the government and banks.”

They’re both works of art. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Archive/PA Images via Getty Images

Baskin believes that people’s lifestyle choices are part of the problem, namely by abusing animals in ways that deny them happiness, health and well-being.

“I think this country is obsessed with fame and wealth. But we shouldn’t chase fame and fortune. So many people have to go homeless because they’re chasing fame. We should be encouraging people to be good human beings, not buying expensive cars, but to be kind and helpful,” she says.

Baskin also wishes to encourage people to look on wild animals as creations of nature rather than for their beauty — therefore, she wants to make people reconsider their relationship with natural resources.

“Wild animals are nature’s great assets,” she says. “So, if we want to stop all this killing, we need to start thinking about preserving wild animals, about ensuring that we’re using our resources wisely. If we stop using our natural resources wisely, the destruction of forests, use of forest as fuel, chemical waste and land degradation means many, many species will go extinct.”

Baskin is also concerned about changing the way we look at animals. She believes that it’s irresponsible to judge animal species on their physical appearance alone.

“What you should think about is what their emotions are, what their life is like, the time they live in the wild. How they’re treated and what they have to live with, and is it still beautiful to live in the jungle? That’s what I think,” she says.

Animal abuse activists want to combat cruelty. Credit: STEFAN HEUNIS/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

This is not her first try at an acting career — Baskin actually tried it as a child. After deciding to become a veterinarian, she auditioned for a performance group but failed in the first round.

“I was too old for so much dancing, so I thought I’ll give something else a try,” she says. “I played a very serious character that had many tantrums and did a lot of shouting and fighting, and that was quite difficult for me.”

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