tiger king star Bhagawan “Doc” Antle has been arrested by the FBI and is expected to appear in court on Monday to face federal money laundering charges, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.
Federal agents arrested the controversial wild animal trainer on Friday and he was in custody at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Conway, South Carolina, all weekend.
Antle, owner of Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina, is prominent in Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, a 2020 Netflix mini-documentary series focusing on tiger breeders and private zoo operators in the US. The series focused on Oklahoma zoo operator Joe Exotic, who was also a victim of animal cruelty and was convicted of conspiring to kill rival Carol Baskin.
The charges against Antl, 62, were expected to be formally announced during a court hearing on Monday afternoon in Florence, South Carolina. The allegations relate to allegations of money laundering, a person familiar with the matter told the AP on Saturday. This person could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
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Antl has been accused by animal rights activists of cruelty to lions and other wild animals. In 2020, he was charged with animal cruelty and wildlife trafficking in Virginia.
In May, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals asked the IRS to investigate the Antla Rare Species Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for wildlife conservation. PETA claims it is using some of the fund’s money to subsidize its safari site in Socastee near Myrtle Beach.
“It’s only fitting that ‘Doc’ Antle is behind bars after years of keeping endangered animals locked up for gaudy photo shoots. His legal troubles are on the rise as PETA recently reported on his apparent ‘charity’ scam, and the end of his reign of terrorizing tiger cubs cannot come soon enough,” said Debbie Metzler, PETA’s deputy director of captive law enforcement. division, in a statement.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, Antle is charged with two felony counts of wildlife trafficking and conspiracy to traffic in wildlife, as well as 13 counts of criminal conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act and animal cruelty charges related to with the trade in lion cubs. These charges are due in court next month.
Antle has a history of reported violations dating back to 1989 when he was fined by the USDA for abandoning deer and peacocks at his zoo in Virginia. Over the years, he has over 35 USDA violations for animal cruelty.