The 60-year-old appeared in the Netflix series this year, alongside the likes of Carole and Joe Exotic, who is currently serving a 22-year jail sentence for being behind a murder-for-hire plot targeting Carole.
Recent reports reveal that Antle – who is also known as Kevin/Bhagavan Antle – has been charged with one felony count of wildlife trafficking, one felony count of conspiracy to wildlife traffic and 13 addition misdemeanours relating to animal cruelty and the Endangered Species Act.
Reacting to his indictment, Carole reportedly labelled Antle as the ‘kingpin’ behind the exploitation of big cats.
The owner of animal sanctuary Big Cats Rescue in Tampa Florida told The Sun: ‘I believe that Joe Schreibvogel [Joe Exotic] was the largest producer of cubs for the pay to play industry, but I think the real kingpin behind this kind of exploitation has been Kevin Bhagavan, Doc Antle.’
She claimed: ‘[Antle is] just smarted and better funded than the dominos that have dropped already, but the authorities have finally caught up to him.’
Carole is making it her mission to end the abuse of big cats in captivity and to prevent the extinction of big cats in the wild.
She is calling for a new law to be passed, the Big Cat Public Safety Act, that will end cub handling and formally ban the private possession of big cats in the US.
Carole told the paper that Antle and Mario Tabraue, who had also appeared in Tiger King, had been ‘the most vocal’ in speaking out against the Big Cat Public Safety Act and had ‘thwarted our efforts to bring the bill to the floor for a vote’.
Her comments came as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) released a statement in response to Antle’s charges.
Brittany Peet – the PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel of Captive Animal Law Enforcement – told Metro.co.uk: ‘The dominos are falling one by one – nearly every animal abuser featured in Tiger King is now in custody, out of business, or facing administrative or criminal charges.
‘After years of working to stop Doc Antle’s cruel tiger-petting sessions and chimpanzee video stunts, PETA is eager to see him face the courtroom—and the consequences.
‘PETA’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”, and the group opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview.’
The Virgina Attorney General’s Animal Law Unit has been conducting a months-long investigation into Antle, who owns South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach Safari, and announced the charges made against him on Friday.
The office discovered that Antle and the owner of Wilson’s Wild Animal Park, Keith Wilson, had allegedly trafficked lion cubs between Virginia and South Carolina.
Wilson faces one felony count of wildlife trafficking, one felony count of conspiracy to wildlife traffic and 17 misdemeanour charges, while two of Antle’s daughters have been charged with misdemeanours.
Following the release of Tiger King on Netflix, earlier this year, viewers had called out zoo owner Antle’s practices. He had slammed the series for being ‘salacious’ and claimed he was ‘very disappointed’ with his portrayal in the show.
In a now-deleted Instagram post, Antle had shared a statement from on behalf of his zoo Myrtle Beach Safari that read: ‘We are very disappointed that our facility was mentioned in the new Netflix series. We can only assume it is because Doc Antle has been such a high profile wildlife personality for so many decades that his association would create more buzz.
‘Myrtle Beach Safari adheres to all USDA guidelines, and our animals are treated with the utmost care.
‘We have never had a USDA violation and work collaboratively with various state and federal wildlife agencies to ensure our animals receive the very best life each and every day.’
Metro.co.uk has reached out to Carole Baskin and Myrtle Beach Safari for comment.
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