A wild animal trainer featured in the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King” was charged with wildlife trafficking and animal cruelty, federal prosecutors in Virginia announced Friday.
As WBBT reports, Attorney General Mark R. Herring said Bhagavan “Doc” Antle was criminally charged following a monthslong investigation into his dealings with Keith A. Wilson, owner of Wilson’s Wild Animal Park. An investigation reportedly revealed that the pair trafficked lion cubs between Virginia and South Carolina.
A 40-page indictment detailed the alleged relationship between Antle and Wilson. Authorities executed a search warrant at Wilson’s South Carolina home in December 2019, a month after Wilson and his nephew Christian Dall’Acqua were indicted on 46 counts of animal cruelty in Frederick County.
“In August 2019, Attorney General Herring’s Animal Law Unit secured custody of 119 animals that were seized from Wilson’s ‘roadside zoo’ after a judge issued an order finding that Wilson “cruelly treated, neglected, or deprived the animal[s] of adequate care,” the statement detailed.
Antle, who founded and owns Myrtle Beach Safari, was also charged with conspiracy to wildlife traffic and conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Wilson is facing the same charges as Antle.
Herring said two of Antle’s daughters are also facing criminal charges in Frederick County. Tawny Antle was charged with one misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals and one misdemeanor count of violating the Endangered Species Act. Tilakum Watterson was charged with two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and two misdemeanor counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.
TMZ reported that Antle and his daughters have not yet been arrested.
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[Featured image: Bhagavan “Doc” Antle/Instagram video screengrab]