Bhagavan Kevin “Doc” Antle of Myrtle Beach Safari and T.I.G.E.R.S. was scheduled to appear in court this morning, facing nine charges of cruelty to animals, six counts of selling endangered species and two wildlife trafficking charges.
The charges followed an investigation by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring into Keith Wilson of Wilson’s Wild Animal Park, Winchester, VA, according to a press release. Authorities seized 119 animals from Wilson’s Wild Animal Park in 2019. During the raid, authorities witnessed meat infested with maggots, feces-filled enclosures, animals without water and dead animals left in a freezer.
Wilson was charged with two counts of wildlife trafficking, eight counts of violating the Endangered Species Act and nine counts of animal cruelty. His nephew, Christian Dall’Acqua, was also charged with animal cruelty. A trial date for Wilson and Dall’Acqua is scheduled for June 21-25, according to a press release.
Four months after raiding Wilson’s facility, authorities served a search warrant at Antle’s Myrtle Beach facility in Dec. 2019. Antle and Wilson are accused of trafficking lion cubs between Virginia and South Carolina, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The cubs were transported in a "cruel, brutal, or inhumane manner so as to produce torture or unnecessary suffering," according to the indictment.
Also indicted were Antle’s daughters Tawny Antle and Tilakum Watterson. Antle claims he and his daughters are being unfairly targeted by animal rights groups.
“TIGERS/Myrtle Beach Safari has never been found to be in violation of the AWA, nor the ESA,” he said. However, documents indicate Antle has a history of animal neglect and mistreatment that spans 30 years. Allegations include animals kept in cramped conditions, animals being fed contaminated food and accusations of a visitor being mauled by a tiger.
Last week a woman was bitten by a primate that is believed to have escaped from Antle’s Myrtle Beach facility. After confirming to police that the primate was from his facility, Antle later denied the animal was his, suggesting that people were confused by what they saw. WPDE reported the woman has had to receive eight rabies shots so far due to the bite.
Antle’s hearing for today was continued. He is due back in court June 24.
In a statement, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet called Antle’s facility a shady roadside zoo.
“Bhagavan “Doc” Antle has a rap sheet of federal Animal Welfare Act violations a mile long, exploits cubs for the big-cat petting industry, has ties to unscrupulous characters like convicted murder-for-hire and big-cat trafficking culprit Joe Maldonado-Passage, and uses animals for harmful hands-on encounters, photo ops, and publicity stunts,” Peet said in the statement. “PETA has been on his case for years, and it’s long past time that authorities paid him and his shady business a visit.”