'Tiger King' Star Doc Antle Indicted on Animal Cruelty and Wildlife Trafficking Charges
By Desiree Murphy
Doc Antle has been indicted on animal cruelty and wildlife trafficking charges by the Grand Jury of Frederick County, Virginia.
ET has learned that the 60-year-old Tiger King star (and owner of Myrtle Beach Safari) has been charged with one felony count 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.
Two of Doc's daughters, Tawny Antle and Tilakum Watterson, have also been charged. Tawny has been charged with one misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals and one misdemeanor count of violating the Endangered Species Act, while Tilakum has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals and two misdemeanor counts of violating the Endangered Species Act.
Additionally, Keith A. Wilson -- the owner of Wilson’s Wild Animal Park who allegedly worked with Doc -- has been charged with one felony count of wildlife trafficking, one felony count of conspiracy to wildlife traffic, and 17 additional misdemeanor charges. Authorities say they seized 119 animals, including lions, tigers, bears, camels, goats, water buffalo and more from Keith's roadside zoo, claiming he got some of the animals from Doc.
The indictments come following a months-long investigation into the relationship between Doc and Keith. The investigation found that both men allegedly trafficked lion cubs between Virginia and South Carolina.
In a statement to ET, Doc said, "I am terribly shocked and disappointed at the charges that have been filed against me by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and how they have sought to involve my daughters in this matter. I categorically deny any act or conduct that could ever be considered as 'animal cruelty.' I have spent my entire professional life promoting the welfare and conservation of big cats and other species. I have deep regard and feelings for the animals in my care and would never hurt or abuse them in any way. I look forward to being able to answer these charges and to be able to clear my good name."
He also shared a trailer for his upcoming docuseries, Tiger Kingdom: More Than a King, in which Doc pledges to tell "my side of the story."
ET has also reached out to Keith's legal team for comment.
Back in April, ET spoke with Doc about what it was like being a part of Britney Spears' iconic "Slave 4 U" performance at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards. Doc provided the animals for the performance, and appeared onstage with the pop star.
"She was such a darling, totally just a fanatic person wanting a perfect performance," he said. "We were there for several days rehearsing so that the tigers would be relaxed and happy to be out there and that everything could be smooth and taken care of as best as possible. She was there rehearsing and working -- just the hardest working, sweetest young girl, out there making all the pieces click together."
"I had total confidence in that tiger. I knew him since he was a baby," Doc continued, of the live tiger Britney was in a cage with at the beginning of the performance. "He's about seven years old right there [and at the] peak of his game. A super macho, aggressive male tiger. That's the tiger that you go somewhere like that with because he cares less about the fireworks, the gas explosions, the banging music. He's totally concerned with just holding his own and being cool."