‘Tiger King’ Star Doc Antle Pleads Guilty to Animal Trafficking and Money Laundering


Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, who starred in the first season of the hit Netflix series Tiger King, pleaded guilty Monday to trafficking wildlife and money laundering.

According to a Justice Department release, Antle is facing a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and three years of supervised release.

Antle, 63, the owner and operator of The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.), pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, which “prohibits trafficking of illegally taken wildlife, fish or plants, including animals protected under the Endangered Species Act.”

Prosecutors said Antle conspired to violate the act between September 2018 and May 2020 by directing the purchase of two cheetah cubs, two lion cubs, two tigers and one juvenile chimpanzee. All of the aforementioned animals are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Antle is also accused of laundering money between February and April 2022.

“Antle used bulk cash payments to hide the transactions and falsified paperwork to show non-commercial transfers entirely within one state,” prosecutors said. “Antle also requested that payments for endangered species be made to his nonprofit so they could appear as ‘donations.'”

The news arrives three years after Antle was charged in Virginia with two felony counts related to wildlife trafficking. 

Following his October 2020 indictment, Antle told TMZ: “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.”

Antle is scheduled to be sentenced after a judge reviews a report prepared by the probation office.