Doc Antle from 'Tiger King' charged with animal cruelty and wildlife trafficking

The zoo owner has been indicted on 15 charges in Virginia.
/ Source: TODAY

One of the exotic zoo owners featured in the Netflix hit "Tiger King" has been indicted on animal cruelty and wildlife trafficking charges in Virginia following a monthslong investigation.

Bhagavan "Doc" Antle, the owner of Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina, has been charged by a grand jury in Frederick County with one felony count of wildlife trafficking and one felony count of conspiracy to wildlife traffic as well as 13 misdemeanor charges, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced in a news release on Friday.

Doc Antle, one of the primary characters from the Netflix hit "Tiger King," has been indicted on felony animal trafficking charges as well as misdemeanor animal cruelty charges. NETFLIX

The charges stem from an investigation by the state's Animal Law Unit that found Antle allegedly trafficked lion cubs with Keith A. Wilson, the owner of Wilson's Wild Animal Park in Winchester, Virginia. Wilson was also charged with a felony count of wildlife trafficking, one felony count of conspiracy to wildlife traffic, and 17 additional misdemeanors, according to court documents.

The additional misdemeanor charges faced by Antle include four counts of conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act and nine misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. Antle's daughters, Tawny Antle and Tilakum Watterson, were also charged with a combined three misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and three misdemeanor counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.

Wilson was previously indicted in November 2019 on 46 counts of animal cruelty and is set to go to trial for those charges in June 2021. Law enforcement also seized 119 animals from Wilson's zoo last year after a judge issued an order finding that he "cruelly treated" bears, camels, goats, lions, tigers, water buffalo and more.

Antle could not be immediately reached for comment, and online court documents did not list an attorney for him. A request for comment by TODAY to Myrtle Beach Safari was not immediately returned.

Antle is the latest figure from "Tiger King" to face legal charges.

The Oklahoma zoo formerly operated by "Joe Exotic," the star of the docu-series, is now under the control of Carole Baskin, the rival zoo owner he was convicted of hiring a hit man to kill.

The property was previously owned by Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, known as "Joe Exotic" in the show. Maldonado-Passage is serving a 22-year prison sentence after being convicted on two counts of murder-for-hire last year for paying $3,000 to a hit man to kill Baskin.