While speaking with ET via Zoom this week, the big-cat rights activist (who was heavily featured in Netflix's Tiger King docuseries) revealed that she said yes to the dance competition show in order to bring more awareness to Big Cat Rescue, her non-profit animal sanctuary near Tampa, Florida.
"We had over 190 media outlets reach out to us after Tiger King and we turned all of them down," Baskin, 59, explained to ET's Lauren Zima. "But my daughter saw the list and she said, 'You gotta do [The Tonight Show Starring] Jimmy Fallon and you gotta do Dancing With the Stars.'"
"Jimmy Fallon turned out to be a prank, Dancing With the Stars turned out to be the real thing," she added. "So we accepted that challenge even though it's just totally outside my comfort zone."
While many celebrities typically join DWTS to show fans a whole new side of them, Baskin reiterated that she's just doing it for one reason, and one reason only. Despite how she was portrayed on Tiger King, Baskin isn't here for her own redemption, but for that of her beloved animals!
"There's plenty of wrongs but this isn't about me. This is about the cats and they were the real losers in Tiger King. There was [little] attention paid to what those cats go through," she explained. "So I am really hoping that Dancing With the Stars will keep those cats first and foremost in the front of the viewers so that they are constantly thinking about those cats being in cages and being exploited so that we can change that and end the private possession and the cub handling."
"In my case, I have always been strictly focused on protecting big cats and saving them in the wild," she continued. "The editors of Tiger King chose not to focus on that part of what I do. I'm really hoping the editors of Dancing With the Stars do."
Later in the interview, Baskin also revealed exclusively to ET the first song that her and her pro partner will be dancing to during week one of the competition. The celeb-pro pairings will be announced during premiere night, Monday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
"We are opening my act with 'Eye of the Tiger,'" Baskin shared, laughing. "It was my first choice. The people in wardrobe asked me what they could do and I told them to go just absolutely wild. So, I think you're going to be as surprised as I am."
"So far, no bicycle or flower crowns have been presented to me, but but I'd be happy to do that," she added, referencing the signature items in her self-taped social media videos.
As for how rehearsals are going, Baskin told ET "they've been fabulous."
"The pros are amazing. They can teach anybody to dance if they can teach me to dance," she shared. "It is a lot of work ... I'm going to give it my all!"
Tune into Entertainment Tonight on Thursday to hear more from Baskin's interview.