The feds finding Carole Baskin's first husband alive is all the buzz on the internet -- but that would be news to local authorities, who tell TMZ they haven't heard from the feds, and still consider Don Lewis missing.
Here's the deal ... Twitter users started chirping Wednesday when a lot of them discovered -- for the first time, apparently -- a 2021 interview with Carole about an alleged report the Dept. of Homeland Security found Lewis living in Costa Rica. The purported DHS report came to light during the second season of "Tiger King."
Like we said, Carole already spoke about it, and we reported on it too ... but for some reason, everyone seems to think the mystery was solved 2 years ago. It really wasn't.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office -- which is in charge of Don's missing person's case -- tells TMZ its had no communication with federal officials to suggest they've located Don Lewis. Obviously, the FBI would've shared that info, so as far as the Sheriff's Office is concerned, nothing's changed -- Lewis is still a missing person, and the case remains a priority for HCSO.
It's also worth noting .... as a legal matter, Don's been presumed dead since 2002. And of course, Joe Exotic sees it that way too.
Joe's attorney, John Phillips says the 'TK2' doc and Carole's ITV interview don't make a difference in their minds about her alleged involvement in DL's disappearance ... adding the doc was floated as having veracity, when it doesn't at all. He also insists Joe will be vindicated in due time.
As for Carole, she reiterates what she told us back in 2021 ... which is that she does not know if the alleged DHS doc 'TK2' producers showed her is real. She's always maintained she had nothing to do with his disappearance, or possible death.
We've reached out to DHS for comment ... so far, no word back.