WINCHESTER, Va. (WAVY) — Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, one of the main figures in Netflix’s popular “Tiger King” documentary, faces multiple wildlife trafficking charges after an investigation by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s Animal Law Unit.
Herring’s office says that Antle and Keith A. Wilson, the owner of Wilson’s Wild Animal Park in Frederick County, Virginia, trafficked lion cubs between Virginia and Antle’s Myrtle Beach Safari park.
Antle 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.
Wilson faces one felony count of wildlife trafficking, one felony count of conspiracy to wildlife traffic, four misdemeanor counts of violating the Endangered Species Act, four misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act, and nine misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.
Both men were indicted on Wednesday by a grand jury in Frederick County, along with two of Doc Antle’s daughters. Tawny Antle has been charged with one misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals and one misdemeanor count of violating the Endangered Species Act, and Tilakum Watterson has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and two misdemeanor counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.
Herring’s office says a months-long investigation led to the charges, including a search of Antle’s South Carolina property in December 2019.
Wilson had previously been indicted by a Frederick County grand jury, along with his nephew Christian Dall’Acqua, back in November 2019 on animal cruelty charges related to Wilson’s “roadside zoo.” Month’s before, Herring’s Animal Law Unit seized 119 “cruelly treated, neglected, or deprived” animals from the zoo, including lions, tigers, bears, camels, goats and water buffalo.
Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released this statement Friday after the announcement of charges against Antle.
The dominos are falling one by one—nearly every animal abuser featured in Tiger King is now in custody, out of business, or facing administrative or criminal charges,” said PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet, who also appeared in “Tiger King. “After years of working to stop ‘Doc’ Antle’s cruel tiger-petting sessions and chimpanzee video stunts, PETA is eager to see him face the courtroom—and the consequences.”
Antle was one of three primary figures in the Netflix series. Joseph “Joe Exotic” Maldonado-Passage is in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot against the show’s third main character, Carole Baskin, who recently appeared on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” She continues to face heat over the 1997 disappearance of her former husband Don Lewis, but maintains her innocence in the case. Maldonado-Passage has requested a pardon from President Trump.