Man featured in ‘Tiger King' facing wildlife trafficking charges in VA
Three other people have also been indicted
RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - A months-long investigation has led to wildlife trafficking charges against four people, including Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, who was featured on the “Tiger King” documentary.
The investigation was carried out by Attorney General Mark R. Herring’s Animal Law Unit. Antle, the owner of Myrtle Beach Safari, has been charged with one felony county of wildlife trafficking, one felony count of conspiracy to wildlife traffic, four misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act and nine misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.
Keith A. Wilson, the owner of Wilson’s Wild Animal Park in Virginia, has been charged with one felony count of wildlife trafficking, one felony count of conspiracy to wildlife traffic, four misdemeanor counts of violating the Endangered Species Act, four misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act and nine misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.
Two of Antle’s daughters were also charged. Tawny Antle has been charged with one misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals and one misdemeanor count of violating the Endangered Species Act. Tilakum Watterson has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and two misdemeanor counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.
Antle, Wilson and Antle’s daughters were all charged by the Grand Jury of Frederick County.
The months-long investigation focused on the relationship between Antle and Wilson and found that both men had trafficked lion cubs between Virginia and South Carolina.
In November 2019, Attorney General Herring announced that Wilson and his nephew, Christian Dall’Acqua had been indicted on 46 counts of animal cruelty by a grand jury in Frederick County. A trial date was set for June 2021. This came after the Animal Law Unit seized custody of 119 animals from Wilson’s “roadside zoo” after a judge issued an order finding that Wilson “cruelly treated, neglected or deprived the animal[s] of adequate care.”
The seized animals included lions, tigers, bears, camels, goats, water buffalo and more. The Attorney General’s Office said the animals are currently in the care of animal control agencies and exotic and agricultural animal rescue partner organizations.
In a 12-hour seizure hearing in August 2019, animal welfare experts testified as to the inadequate conditions and cruelty at Wilson’s establishment, and photo and video evidence showed inadequate conditions of both animals and facilities.
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