Months after the rise and fall of Netflix’s Tiger King, Myrtle Beach Safari owner, and operator Bhagavan “Doc” Antle is in hot water with authorities. Charged with multiple counts of wildlife violations, Antle was indicted Friday in Virginia following a months-long investigation. Despite this, Antle and staff are still active on social media.
More on ‘Doc’ Antle’s charges after ‘Tiger King’
Tiger King gave viewers an inside look at the big cat industry — the good and the bad. The seven-part docuseries had a few main stories with one revolving around Antle’s Myrtle Beach Safari.
While Joseph Maldonado-Passage is serving his prison term for a murder-for-hire-lot against Big Cat Rescue owner Carole Baskin, Antle’s currently facing multiple charges. 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 are all part of a months-long investigation.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s Animal Law Unit led the investigation, which also indicted Wilson’s Wild Animal Park owner, Keith A. Wilson. He is said to have trafficked lion cubs between his park and Antle’s.
Both men sat before a grand jury on Oct. 9, along with Antle’s daughters Tawny Antlem — charged with one misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals and one misdemeanor count of violating the Endangered Species Act — and Tilakum Watterson who has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and two misdemeanor counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.
Kitty Block, president, and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States responded to the news in part via email:
Sadly, they are not the only ones who breed and hold wildlife captive for a lifetime of abuse. Hundreds of these characters run operations just like them and must be stopped. These animals are bred for profit, snatched from their moms for cub petting and photos by the paying public, then discarded when they are too dangerous to handle at a few months of age.
Our 2014 undercover investigations at Tiger Safari in Oklahoma and Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia shed light on the significant role that Antle has played in supplying tiger cubs for public handling programs. Tigers used for breeding at both facilities came from Antle and most of the offspring were sent back to him.
Antle, staff active on social media amid charges
Antle’s compound was first investigated in Dec. 2019 when investigators searched for signs of animal cruelty. At that time, Wilson was already facing 46 counts of animal cruelty. More than 100 of his animals were seized in Aug. 2019, according to Herring’s office who posted a statement ahead of the indictment.
Despite all of this, Antle and his staff have posted several images on their social media accounts of animals in their care. Following the viral trend of a TikTok dad who posted a video drinking cranberry juice while skating to the tune of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”
The band shared the clip and it has since exploded into a plethora of copycat versions — including the ones posted by Antle and staff member Moksha Bybee. Their versions included Vali the chimp and the newest baby chimp, Angada.
On Antle’s post, he even took the time to respond to those with questions about the cranberry juice.
Meanwhile, Joe Exotic’s zoo will host special visitors
While Antle deals with his legalities, the Travel Channel will host Ghost Adventures: Horror at Joe Exotic Zoo on Oct. 29 at 9 p.m. ET. In a press release obtained by Showbiz Cheatsheet, Zak Bagans, Aaron Goodwin, Jay Wasley, and Billy Tolley will investigate the Greater Wynnewood Animal Park for any ghostly sightings.
The release stated that park staff “regularly experience mysterious and unexplained activity, which they are sure is connected to the park’s ill-reputed events.”
“This investigation was wild from beginning to end. We went into it thinking we knew a little about this story already, but there were so many surprises at every turn,” Bagans said.
“It’s a super-charged location and it felt surreal to be there. This special has all the drama, characters, and twists that you would expect in any Joe Exotic story. But just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all, there’s more.”
The team will look at the entire perimeter of the park — specifically Joe’s former cabin where cadaver dogs find a possible lead on human remains. Just when you thought Tiger King couldn’t outdo itself, right?
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