Tiger King star Doc Antle has been indicted on wildlife trafficking charges following an investigation by the Virginia attorney general.
Antle rose to global fame – and notoriety – following his appearance on the Netflix documentary, which became the world’s favourite lockdown binge-watch.
Antle was charged with one felony count of wildlife trafficking, one felony count of conspiracy to wildlife traffic, four misdemeanour counts of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act, and nine misdemeanour counts of animal cruelty.
It comes after a lengthy investigation by the state’s Animal Law unit into the relationship between Antle and Keith Wilson, owner of Wilson’s Wild Animal Park in Virginia. Wilson was also handed wildlife trafficking charges by the Grand Jury of Frederick County following the attorney general’s investigation.
In addition, Antle’s daughter Tawny Antle has been charged with one misdemeanour count of cruelty to animals and one misdemeanour count of violating the Endangered Species Act. His other daughter, Tilakum Watterson, has been charged with two misdemeanour counts of cruelty to animals and two misdemeanour counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.
Doc Antle was ‘the real kingpin’ of the big cat industry, according to Tiger King star Carole Baskin.
In a statement, Antle told CNN: “I have spent my entire professional life promoting the welfare and conservation of big cats and other species. I have deep regard and feelings for the animals in my care and would never hurt or abuse them in any way.
“I look forward to being able to answer these charges and to be able to clear my good name.”
In the hit Netflix documentary Tiger King, it was alleged that Antle killed tiger cubs, claims which he later denied.
In his statement, Antle continued: “The show Tiger King made a number of false statements about my personal life that I just let slide off my back.
“But what the State of Virginia has done, to falsely attack my treatment of animals, to attempt to slander my reputation and my life’s work, solely to appease animal rights activists that have influence over the elected officials that have brought these charges is far different and it’s very personal to me.”
He previously told TMX.news: “Euthanising cubs is illegal, immoral, and absolutely never happens here and never has.”
Fellow Tiger King star Carole Baskin told The Sun that she believes Antle is “the real kingpin” of the big cat industry and not Joe Exotic.
“He’s just smarter and better funded than the dominos that have dropped already, but the authorities have finally caught up to him,” she said.
“Antle and Mario Tabraue, who were both in Tiger King… had been the most vocal voices against the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which ends cub handling and phases out private possession of big cats, and used lobbyist Frank Vitello to thwart our efforts to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.”