For Immediate Release:
November 6, 2023
David Perle 202-483-7382
Charleston, S.C. – Earlier today, Tiger King villain and Myrtle Beach Safari operator Bhagavan “Doc” Antle pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the federal Lacey Act—which prohibits trafficking of illegally taken wildlife, including animals protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)—and conspiracy to launder money. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, for each count, Antle faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years of supervised release.
Antle is getting his comeuppance at last for violating the Lacey Act between September 2018 and May 2020 by directing the sale or purchase of two cheetah cubs, two lion cubs, two tigers, and one young chimpanzee—all of whom are protected under the ESA. Antle used bulk cash payments to hide the transactions and falsified paperwork to show noncommercial transfers entirely within one state. He also requested that payments for endangered species be made to his nonprofit so that they could appear as “donations.”
Below, please find a statement from PETA Foundation General Counsel for Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet:
Felon “Doc” Antle’s days of locking up endangered animals and using them to make a quick buck are numbered, and PETA is calling on federal authorities to put the final nail in the coffin by terminating the licenses that keep his sleazy roadside zoo operating.
The new sentence Antle will receive for these charges will be in addition to his prior Virginia state court convictions that resulted in a $10,000 fine, a two-year suspended sentence, five years of probation, and a five-year ban on working with, trading, possessing, or engaging in other activities with non-native exotic wildlife.
More details about Antle’s long, shameful history of forcing vulnerable baby animals to be passed around for traumatic public encounters and treated as props for publicity stunts are available here.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.