Tiger King: Who is Doc Bhagavan Antle, what happened to him? Where is he now?
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is available to stream and download on Netflix now. In the documentary series, Joe Exotic referred to Doc Bhagavan Antle as his ‘mentor’ but who is he and where is he now? Express.co.uk has everything you need to know.
Who is Doc Bhagavan Antle?
Bhagavan ‘Doc’ Antle, is the founder and director of T.I.G.E.R.S [The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species] at Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina, a 50-acre wildlife preserve.
According to his website, he is the founder of the Rare Species Fund, a grassroots organisation that supports wildlife conservation project across the world.
In the documentary, at first, Antle appears to be in favour of saving the wildlife who have been kept in captivity.
However, it is quickly revealed that Antle has made some questionable life choices, including in his private life.
Antle was born and raised in Salinas, California and grew up on an industrial farm.
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He dropped out of school before the ninth grade and when he was older, moved to China and it was there, he earned the title Doctor of ‘mystical science’.
In the 1980s, Antle returned to Yogaville, Virginia where he practised spiritual medicine and worked as lecture-guru.
In the documentary, Antle revealed in 1982, he bought his first-ever tiger cub that he raised.
Antle was hired to consult on the films such as Ace Ventura and Doctor DoLittle.
According to his website, Antle has worked on over 500 films, documentaries, TV shows and advertising campaigns.
He also has made six appearances on The Tonight Show in the US and appeared on stage at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards holding a big cat behind Britney Spears.
What happened to Doc Bhagavan Antle? Where is he now?
In the early 90s, Antle purchased the property in South Myrtle Beach and founded T.I.G.E.R.S.
According to the official website, Antle has raised and trained over 400 big cats, including a liger that is believed to be the largest living cat in the world.
Also at the site are apes, elephants and other wildlife species.
On the T.I.G.E.R.S website, it is recorded that approximately three million people visit Myrtle Beach every year.
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As seen in the documentary, he has attracted the attention of The United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] and animal right activists since the 1980s.
USDA in 1991 charged Antle with repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act and fined him $3,500 [£2,975]
In 2005, he was prohibited by USDA from letting the public close to adult cats at Myrtle Beach due to “not sufficient distance or barriers between the animals and the public.” He tried to fight the decision in court but failed.
In 2019, Myrtle Beach was raided by police inc connection to Wild Wilson’s Animal Park in Virginia, but they could not find anything incriminating.
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Antle has also been challenged by Animal Rights Group PETA on several occasions who argue he has “failed to meet minimum standards for the care of animals used in exhibitions as established by the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA)”
Not only is Antle’s professional life addressed in the documentary, but his personal life also raises some eyebrows.
Speaking to Rolling Stone, Antle explained that T.I.G.E.R.S staff members must complete an intensive apprenticeship to work at the zoo, they must be single and childless.
Antle explained that his staff learn to work “in a manner akin to a military series of maneuvers”.
He also revealed that his senior staff get “some freedom” but “new apprentices don’t have as much”.
Today, Antle continues to run T.I.G.E.R.S and has made it into a successful business.
He has become a commercial success by hosting cub petting for visitors and selling newborn cubs.
According to Rolling Stone, Antle offers tours three times a week during the summer which cost $399 [£339] per person and professional photos with the animals start at $150 [£127]. Personal photographs and videos with the animals are forbidden.
Myrtle Beach remains open today and on March 20, 2020 Celebrity wrestler The Undertaker even posted photos of himself and his wife playing with the tigers at Antle’s park.
Tiger King is streaming on Netflix now
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