‘Tiger King’ star Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle arrested by the FBI
“Tiger King” star Bhagavan “Doc” Antle was arrested by the FBI on Friday. Several media outlets reported that Antle would face federal money laundering charges.
Antle – who owns the Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina – was arrested by the FBI and booked into the J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Conway, South Carolina, at 5:38 p.m. on Friday, according to Horry County online booking records.
The Associated Press reported, “The charges relate to allegations of money laundering, a person familiar with the matter told the AP on Saturday. The person could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.”
The charges against Antle are expected to be formally announced during a court proceeding on Monday in Florence, South Carolina.
In October 2020, Antle was indicted on wildlife trafficking charges in Virginia. He was charged with one felony count of wildlife trafficking, one felony count of conspiracy to wildlife traffic, and 13 additional misdemeanor charges relating to animal cruelty and the Endangered Species Act.
National Geographic details Doc’s alleged wildlife trafficking allegations:
The charges stem from a months-long investigation into illegal selling and transport of lions between Antle and Keith Wilson, owner of Wilson’s Wild Animal Park in Winchester, Virginia. Wilson has been indicted on identical charges to Antle, plus four additional counts of conspiracy. (Wilson already was facing 46 counts of animal cruelty in relation to a November 2019 raid that resulted in authorities confiscating 119 of his animals.)
Doc’s daughters were also charged with misdemeanors. Tawny Antle was charged with one misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals. Tilakum Watterson was charged with two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and two misdemeanor counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.
The trial for the wildlife trafficking charges is scheduled for next month.
NBC News reported, “Antle has a history of recorded violations, going as far back as 1989, when he was fined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for abandoning deer and peacocks at his zoo in Virginia. Over the years, he has more than 35 USDA violations for mistreating animals.”
In May, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) requested that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) launch a probe into Antle’s Rare Species Fund – a nonprofit that raises money for wildlife conservation. PETA accused Dov of using some of the fund’s money to subsidize the Myrtle Beach Safari.
“It’s fitting that ‘Doc’ Antle is behind bars after years of locking up the endangered animals he uses in tawdry photo ops. His legal woes are mounting, as PETA recently blew the whistle on his apparent ‘charity’ scam, and the end to his reign of terrorizing tiger cubs can’t come soon enough,” Debbie Metzler, associate director of PETA’s Captive Animal Law Enforcement division said in a statement.
Antle was one of the biggest stars in Netflix’s massively popular “Tiger King” docuseries that featured Oklahoma zoo operator Joe Exotic – who was convicted in a plot to kill his rival, Carole Baskin.
Tiger King’s ‘Doc’ Antle arrested by FBI in Horry County