Carole Baskin Reacts to Ex-Husband's Family Airing Ad During 'Dancing With the Stars' (Exclusive)

The Big Cats Rescue CEO also opens up about the critiques she received from the judges, including Derek Hough's epic reaction.

Carole Baskin isn't here for anyone trying to dim her light on Dancing With the Stars.

The big-cats rights activist made her debut on the dance competition show Monday night, dancing a Paso Doble to "Eye of the Tiger" with her pro partner, Pasha Pashkov. While some fans couldn't seem to get enough of it (like Lady Gaga!), others took to social media to criticize her low-scoring performance, and comment on a shocking ad that aired during a commercial break in local Florida markets. 

In case you missed it, the commercial brought up allegations regarding the 1997 disappearance of Baskin's second husband, Don Lewis. The story of his disappearance was featured in Netflix's Tiger King. Joe Exotic alleged in the docuseries that Baskin killed Lewis, a claim she has vehemently denied. The new commercial featured Lewis' three daughters, Gale, Lynda and Donna, along with his former assistant, Anne McQueen, and the family attorney.

"I have not seen the ad. I am not at all surprised," Baskin, 59, exclusively told ET following her performance. "It's just been a huge publicity stunt on their part so what more could they possibly do than that?"

Addressing the haters and all the negative comments she often receives on social media, Baskin advised them to "find something to do that's worthwhile with your life."

"Spending time worrying about what I'm doing is probably not a really good use of your time," she said. "I'm not worried about what people say because even when they're saying things that [are] negative, it's keeping the conversation out there [about cats] in the public eye. As long as I can keep that conversation out there, I can keep the cats in the spotlight and that's my goal."

Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

As for her DWTS debut, Baskin received a total score of 11/30 from judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Derek Hough, placing her and Pashkov at the bottom of the leader board. While Baskin's technique may have not been the most impressive during week one, the judges still seemed to be highly entertained by her presence.

Hough made one of the best critiques of the night by playing on the lyrics of the Baskin-inspired TikTok dance that went viral earlier this year. "Carole Baskin, ya danced that Paso, ya smashed it," he raved. "Well done!"

"You know, I know and hate the original song, so I was so glad he reframed it for me," Baskin told ET. "Now I will hear his words instead of the original words, so thank you, Derek. People should should sing Derek's version."

Earlier in the interview, Baskin also clarified why she didn't respond to new host Tyra Banks' question -- "Carole, did you tap into that inner tiger?" -- shortly after the judges gave their remarks. 

"I couldn't hear her, I didn't know what she said. So I did not want to say, 'Yeah or no,'" she explained, laughing. "But I appreciate that the [judges] gave such great feedback because that will help us next week. I'm really thankful that we weren't eliminated in the first week and we are getting a second chance at it."

"I feel good about it," she added. "I always feel like there's huge room to improve on anything and I feel like if we've made it this far in two weeks [of rehearsals], every week that we survive the show, it's going to just get better and better."

That being said, how do Baskin and Pashkov plan to top their performance during week two of the competition?

"Let's keep it a surprise," Pashkov teased. "This was a surprise, the whole thing, like nobody knew who was dancing with who, so let's keep some more secrecy until next week. We have some epic song choices and I just want everybody to tune in and really have a good time and enjoy the ride."

Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Tune into Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday for more from Baskin and Pashkov!


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