MYRTLE BEACH — “Tiger King” star Bhagavan “Doc” Antle was arrested by the FBI on June 3, according to Horry County Jail records.
No charges are listed, but his arrest is linked to money laundering allegations with a hearing scheduled for Monday, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
Antle, 62, has been a controversial figure among animal rights activists who have accused the owner of Myrtle Beach Safari of abusing lions and other wildlife, including allowing people to hold the animals.
Antle was featured in the hit Netflix series “Tiger King,” about animal handler and zoo operator Joe Exotic, who was also targeted for animal abuse and sent to prison in a plot to kill a female rival, Carol Baskin.
Antle faces other criminal charges.
In Virginia, he faces two counts of wildlife trafficking and conspiracy to traffic wildlife, as well as 13 counts of conspiracy to violate the Wildlife Act. endangered and animal cruelty charges related to lion cub trafficking.
Two of Antle’s daughters have also been charged in Virginia. Tawny Antle and Tilakum Watterson face two misdemeanor counts: animal cruelty and violation of the Endangered Species Act.
Antle has a history of recorded violations, dating back to 1989, when he was fined by the United States Department of Agriculture for abandoning deer and peacocks at his Virginia zoo. Over the years he has over 35 USDA violations for mistreating animals.
Trials of his Virginia charges are scheduled to begin next month.
Antle remained at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center on June 3 after being booked at 5:38 p.m. An FBI spokesperson declined to comment.
A People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals official welcomed Antle’s arrest.
“It’s only fitting that ‘Doc’ Antle is behind bars after years of locking up endangered animals he uses in tasteless photo ops,” said Debbie Metzler, PETA associate director for the captive animal law enforcement. “His legal troubles are piling up…and the end of his reign of terrorizing baby tigers can’t come soon enough.”
In May, PETA asked the IRS to investigate Antle’s Rare Species Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for wildlife conservation, over allegations that it uses part money from the fund to subsidize his safari site in Socastee, outside of Myrtle Beach.
Avery Wilks and Andy Shain contributed from Columbia.