Safari owner featured in ‘Tiger King’ series indicted on wildlife trafficking charges

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RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) – Authorities have charged Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, the owner of Myrtle Beach Safari who was featured in the Netflix docuseries ‘Tiger King’, with two felony wildlife trafficking charges and 13 additional misdemeanor charges.

Two of Antle’s daughters have also received misdemeanor charges. Keith Wilson, the owner of Wilson’s Wild Animal Park in Winchester, Virginia, also received felony and misdemeanor charges.

According to a press release from the Virginia Office of the Attorney General, the charges follow a months-long investigation into Antle’s relationship with Wilson, according to the press release. Investigators found that the two men trafficked lion cubs between Virginia and South Carolina.

Attorney General Herring’s animal law unit seized 119 animals from Wilson’s “roadside zoo” in August 2019 after a judge issued an order finding that Wilson “cruelly treated, neglected or deprived the animal (s) of adequate care.”

Animal welfare experts testified against Wilson, detailing inadequate conditions and cruelty at the animal park, which was complemented by photo and video evidence that showed inadequate conditions of the animals and facilities at Wilson’s Wild Animal Park.

Wilson and his nephew were both indicted on 46 counts of animal cruelty in Frederick County in November 2019. Authorities in North Carolina searched Antle’s property a month later, the release said.

Antle’s indictments include:

  • 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
  • nine misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty

Two of Antle’s daughters – Tawny Antle and Tilakum Watterson – also received charges. Tawny Antle has been charged with one misdemeanor count of cruelly to animals and one misdemeanor count of Violating the Endangered Species Act. Watterson was charged with two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and two misdemeanor counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.

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