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Tiger King’s Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle Arrested By FBI, Allegedly For Money Laundering

Bhagavan "Doc" Antle has faced a series of legal problems since he was featured prominently in Netflix's hit series "Tiger King."

By Jax Miller
A police handout of Bhagavan “Doc” Antle

“Tiger King” star Bhagavan “Doc” Antle was arrested by federal authorities, reportedly for illicit financial activities.

Antle, 62, is due in court Monday, where the reality TV star will be formally charged with federal money laundering, a source close to the case told the Associated Press. The wildlife trainer and big cat owner was arrested by the FBI on Friday in South Carolina, where he owns Doc Antle’s Myrtle Beach Safari.

Jail records show Antle remains at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center, though the specific charges have yet to be established.

Friday’s arrest is the latest of several for the private zoo owner, who featured heavily in Netflix’s hit 2020 series “Tiger King." The unscripted series centered around Joe Exotic, the eccentric zookeeper later convicted on animal cruelty charges and attempted murder-for-hire against big cat rival Carole Baskin.

Separate from the anticipated money laundering charges, Antle currently faces two felony counts of wildlife trafficking and conspiracy to wildlife trafficking in Virginia. He also faces 13 misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act and animal cruelty charges in connection with the treatment of lion cubs.

In 2020, Antle also denounced claims that he allegedly euthanized tiger cubs once they were no longer profitable for Myrtle Beach Safari and his other venture, TIGERS (The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species).

“TIGERS/MBS has never euthanized any tiger cubs or adult tigers - nor any other animal,” Antle said in an Instagram post. “The insinuation is as foul as it is without foundation.”

According to the Associated Press, Antle’s treatment of animals has warranted more than 35 violations against the U.S. Department of Agriculture, dating back as far as 1989. One instance included when he allegedly abandoned deer and peacocks at his Virginia Zoo.

In May, animal rights organization PETA reported that Antle was misappropriating monies from the Rare Species Fund and using the proceeds to “offset the costs of his own for-profit business activities” instead of using them for wildlife conservation, according to their website.

More information is expected following Monday’s hearing in Florence, South Carolina.

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