Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle, one of the many characters who appeared in Netflix documentary series, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness, has been indicted on wildlife trafficking and animal cruelty charges.
Antle is the owner of an animal park in South Carolina known as ‘Myrtle Beach Safari’ that lets its visitors cuddle with pet tiger cubs. Keith Wilson, owner of a wildlife park in Virginia, has also been charged along with Antle.
Both are accused of trafficking lion cubs between Virginia and South Carolina, which makes it illegal to sell lions across state lines. They are both charged with animal cruelty and conspiracy to violate Endangered Species Act.
According to The Office of Attorney General of Virginia statement, Antle has been charged with two counts of felony in connection to wildlife trafficking, four misdemeanour counts of conspiracy to violating the Endangered Species Act and nine misdemeanour counts relating to animal cruelty. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s Animal Law Unit investigated Antle’s relationship with Keith Wilson and found that both men trafficked lion cubs between South Carolina and Virginia.
The press release published on Friday from the Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring’s office also said, that in November 2019, Keith Wilson and his nephew were indicted on 46 counts of animal cruelty. Virginia officials seized 119 animals seized from Keith Wilson’s animal park which included lions, tigers, bears, goats, camels and water buffalo. Animals rescued from Wilson’s zoo have since been cared for by animal control agencies and animal rescue organizations, the Office of the Virginia Attorney General stated.
“I have spent my entire professional life promoting the welfare and conservation of big cats and other species,” adding that he wants to clear his name, Antle denied the charges as reported by CNN. Antle blamed the Netflix docuseries Tiger King for having made a number of false allegations and statements about his personal life and that he let it slide off his back.
According to news reports, Antle’s two daughters Tawny Antle and Tilakam Watterson were charged with misdemeanour counts of cruelty to animals and violating the Endangered Species Act.
Speaking on their behalf, Antle said neither of them have an attorney and they have never hurt or abused animals in any way and they look forward to clearing their names, he added.