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‘Tiger King’ star Bhagavan ‘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 wildlife trainer on Friday and he was held at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Conway, South Carolina, throughout the weekend.
Antle, owner of Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina, is featured in “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” a 2020 Netflix documentary miniseries focusing on tiger breeders and operators of private zoos in the United States.
The series focused heavily on Oklahoma Zoo operator Joe Exotic, who was also targeted for animal abuse and convicted of a conspiracy to kill rival Carole Baskin.
‘TIGER KING’ STAR DOC ANTLE UNKNOWN FOR WILD ANIMAL TRAFFICKING
The charges against Antle, 62, were due to be formally announced during the court case Monday afternoon in Florence, South Carolina. The charges relate to allegations of money laundering, a person familiar with the matter told the AP Saturday. The person could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke with the AP on condition of anonymity.
Animal rights activists accused Antle of abusing lions and other wild animals. He was indicted in Virginia in 2020 for animal cruelty and wildlife trafficking.
In May, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals asked the IRS to investigate the Antle Rare Species Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for wildlife conservation. PETA claims it uses some of the fund’s money to subsidize its safari site in Socastee, outside Myrtle Beach.
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“It’s only fitting that ‘Doc’ Antle is behind bars after years of locking up endangered animals he uses in sordid photo shoots. His legal troubles are piling up as PETA recently exposed their apparent ‘charity’ scam, and the end of its reign of terrorizing tiger cubs cannot come anytime soon,” said Debbie Metzler, associate director of PETA’s Captive Animal Law division. Execution, in a statement.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, Antle faces two counts of wildlife trafficking and conspiracy to traffic wild animals, as well as 13 counts of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act and animal cruelty charges related to trafficking lion cubs. Those charges are due to go to trial next month.
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Antle has a history of recorded violations, dating back to 1989, when he was fined by the US Department of Agriculture for abandoning deer and peacocks at his Virginia zoo. Over the years, he has over 35 USDA violations for abusing animals.