‘Tiger King’ star Doc Antle convicted of wildlife trafficking

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Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, who appeared on the Netflix sensation “Tiger King,” has been convicted of wildlife trafficking, Virginia prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Antle, 63, illegally purchased endangered lion cubs in Virginia and transported them to his private zoo in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“Virginia’s animal cruelty laws are not taken lightly by my office,” Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares said. “I’m thrilled that the jury not only agreed with us but sent a message that Virginia does not tolerate wildlife animal trafficking.”

Antle was also initially charged with nine counts of animal cruelty. Four of the counts were dismissed before the trial wrapped up, and the jury acquitted Antle on the other five counts, the Charleston Post and Courier reported.

“Tiger King” featured Antle, Oklahoma zoo owner “Joe Exotic” and Florida animal rights activist Carole Baskin. It chronicled their chaotic world of private big cat ownership and became a nationwide phenomenon in the early days of the pandemic.

Antle was indicted on the wildlife trafficking charges in October 2020. Nearly two years later, he was also arrested by federal authorities and charged with money laundering. That case remains in progress.

Antle’s lawyers downplayed his conviction and hinted at an appeal.

“Antle was convicted on four charges that amount to failing to obtain a permit for otherwise entirely lawful activity in the highly regulated industry that is exhibiting endangered species,” attorney Erin Harrigan told the Post and Courier.

The jury formally convicted Antle on two counts of wildlife trafficking and two counts of conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking. He faces up to 20 years in prison and will be sentenced Sept. 14.