Trainer featured on ‘Tiger King’ arrested for animal cruelty, wildlife trafficking

Trainer featured on ‘Tiger King’ arrested for animal cruelty, wildlife trafficking

RICHMOND, Va. — A celebrity animal trainer featured on the documentary “Tiger King” was arrested on animal cruelty and wildlife trafficking charges, investigators said.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said Friday that Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, who owns Myrtle Beach Safari and was featured on the Netflix documentary series, and Keith A. Wilson, the owner of Wilson’s Wild Animal Park, trafficked lion cubs between South Carolina and Virginia.

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Herring said a months-long investigation uncovered a link between Antle, a controversial self-described conservationist, animal trainer and wildlife personality and Wilson, who had previously been indicted on 46 counts of animal cruelty with his nephew Christian Dall’Acqua in November 2019.

In August 2019, investigators spent 12 hours seizing 119 animals, including tigers, bears, camels, goats and water buffalo from Wilson’s roadside zoo. The animals are currently in the care of animal control groups licensed to care for the large animals.

Antle was arrested and 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, officials said.

Wilson was arrested and charged with 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.

Two of Antle’s daughters were also charged.

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.

Antle recently released a documentary “Tiger Kingdom: More Than A King,” sharing his perspective.

“(Joe Exotic’s) in jail. Tim Stark’s License is gone. Jeff Lowe’s License is gone. (Carole Baskin’s) gates are closed,” Antle said in a trailer for the series. “This Ritz Carlton of wildlife facilities is open.”