Carole Baskin was (again) painted as an unhelpful, suspicious character in the ongoing search for her missing husband, but despite what 'Tiger King 2' suggests ... she says the exact opposite is true.
Joe Exotic's archenemy tells TMZ ... she's done everything in her power to track down Don Lewis -- her one-time hubby, who mysteriously went missing in the '90s and was never found. The 'TK' sequel, however, might have you thinking otherwise.
As you know ... the 2nd installment debuted last week, and a detective with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Moises Garcia, is prominently featured as they continue to dig into Don's case all these years later. As they delve into Carole's suspected knowledge about his whereabouts, Cpl. Garcia flat out says Carole seems uninterested in helping 'em out.
The reason ... she hasn't cooperated with his office's request for information -- but that's all for a good cause, according to Carole herself ... who says she's done enough already.
CB tells us that since the inception of the original investigation, she's done tons of interviews, forked over scores of documents and given unprecedented access to the authorities to get to the bottom of where the hell Don is. Not just that ... but she put out a $100k reward!
Carole adds, "There is no one who has more to gain from solving the mystery of Don’s disappearance than I do because it would clear my name and stop the idiotic rumors." She further states, "There is nothing that I know that is not either in the Sheriff’s files or in the diary I have published at SaveTheCats.org and no way I am going to have a clearer memory or anything to add twenty-four years later."
While Carole acknowledges she's mostly snubbed Garcia -- she explains she did on the advice of counsel, as she simply has nothing more to contribute.
There's also this ... the new Netflix doc apparently reveals that the Dept. of Homeland Security has already found Don alive and well in Costa Rica. Carole says she hopes that's true -- and it is even more reason she wants to put all the speculation to bed about her alleged involvement, which she says is based on nothing but unfounded rumors.
Bottom line ... Carole isn't about to dig up the past to appease kooks who are hung up on this, and she means that literally. AKA, no septic tank dig is happening on her watch.
Garcia, for his part, says ... "The only person in this case who is not considered a suspect and a person of interest is myself. Everyone else is a possibility, with Carole being a high possibility."