MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — “Tiger King” star Bhagavan “Doc” Antle remained in custody Saturday following his arrest by the FBI, jail records show.
FBI agents arrested him Friday and he was taken to the J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Conway, South Carolina, but the charges he's being held on were not disclosed. A spokesperson for the federal agency did not immediately respond Saturday to a telephone request for further details,
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office told WMBF-TV that a hearing for Antle is scheduled for Monday at which more information was expected to be provided.
Antle, 62, has been a controversial figure among animal rights advocates who have accused the owner of Myrtle Beach Safari of mistreating lions and other wildlife, news outlets reported.
Antle was featured on the hit Netflix series “Tiger King,” about animal handler and zoo operator Joe Exotic, who also was targeted for animal mistreatment and was jailed in a plot to kill a rival, Carole Baskin.
In May, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals asked the IRS to probe Antle’s Rare Species Fund, a nonprofit raising money for wildlife conservation. PETA alleges he uses some of the fund’s money to subsidize his safari site in Socastee outside Myrtle Beach.
“It’s fitting that “Doc” Antle is behind bars after years of locking up the endangered animals he uses in tawdry photo ops. His legal woes are mounting, as PETA recently blew the whistle on his apparent 'charity’ scam, and the end to his reign of terrorizing tiger cubs can’t come soon enough,” said Debbie Metzler, associate director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement PETA, in a statement.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, Antle is facing two felony counts of wildlife trafficking and conspiracy to wildlife trafficking charges, as well as 13 misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act and animal cruelty charges tied to trafficking lion cubs. Those charges are scheduled to go to trial next month.
Antle has a history of recorded violations, going as far back as 1989, when he was fined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for abandoning deer and peacocks at his zoo in Virginia. Over the years, he has more than 35 USDA violations for mistreating animals.