UPDATE: Doc Antle told “Extra” in a statement, “I am terribly shocked and disappointed at the charges that have been filed against me by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and how they have sought to involve my daughters in this matter. I categorically deny any act or conduct that could ever be considered as ‘animal cruelty.’ I have spent my entire professional life promoting the welfare and conservation of big cats and other species. I have deep regard and feelings for the animals in my care and would never hurt or abuse them in any way. I look forward to being able to answer these charges and to be able to clear my good name.”
Doc Antle, of “Tiger King” fame, is facing felony and misdemeanor charges involving wildlife trafficking and animal cruelty.
According to Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring’s Office, “Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle, the owner of Myrtle Beach Safari, has been charged with one felony count of wildlife trafficking, one felony count of conspiracy to wildlife traffic, four misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act, and nine misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.”
Doc’s daughter Tawny Antle has also been charged with “one misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals and one misdemeanor count of violating the Endangered Species Act,” while another daughter named Tilakam Watterson is charged with “two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and two misdemeanor counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.”
The charges stem from an investigation into Antle and Keith A. Wilson, the owner of Wilson’s Wild Animal Park, who is also facing felony and misdemeanor charges. The men are accused of trafficking lion cubs between Virginia and South Carolina.
The investigation included a search of Wilson’s “roadside zoo,” where they seized more than 100 animals. In December 2019, authorities investigated Antle’s Myrtle Beach Safari as well. There are no reports that any animals were seized at that time.
Antle, his daughters, and Wilson were all charged by a grand jury in Frederick County.
Wilson will be headed to court in June 2021. It doesn’t appear Antle’s court date has been set. TMZ reports Doc and his daughters have not yet been taken into custody.
USA Today reports Antle and Wilson could not immediately be reached for comment.
“Extra’s” Billy Bush recently spoke with Doc ahead of his new docuseries “Tiger Kingdom: More Than a King.”
Doc said he wanted the series to set the record straight about a few things. “We’re there just trying to get the story straight about the insanity that tiger cubs have a time limit and they somehow need to be disposed of,” he said. They are also quashing “that somehow we run this all-female sex cult.”
He also told Billy back in April, “I think it is a whirlwind ride, the ‘Tiger King’ exploded across the scene, but you know, in the very final bit of the show, they roll up some just ridiculous stuff, saying that I've somehow been raided, which is absolutely false.”