One of the subjects of Netflix’s Tiger King is back in the news this week, and it’s not for dancing the samba in a lion costume. Per the New York Times, Bhagavan “Doc” Antle was indicted Friday on two felony charges, wildlife trafficking and conspiracy to wildlife traffic, as well as 13 other misdemeanor charges related to conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act and animal cruelty.
According to the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia, two of Antle’s daughters, Tawny Antle and Tilakum Watterson, were also indicted on misdemeanor charges, while Keith A. Wilson of Wilson’s Wild Animal Park in Winchester, Virginia was charged with two felonies and 17 misdemeanors.
The indictment is the result of a months-long investigation into lion cubs both men allegedly trafficked between Virginia and South Carolina, where Antle operates his exotic animal park. Wilson and his nephew Christian Dall’Acqua had previously been indicted on 46 counts of animal cruelty in November 2019, and will go to trial for those previous charges in June 2021.
After the indictment was made public on Friday, Antle refuted the allegation he had committed animal cruelty. “I categorically deny any act or conduct that could ever be considered as ‘animal cruelty,’” he said said in a statement. “I have spent my entire professional life promoting the welfare and conservation of big cats and other species.”