Netflix's docuseries Tiger King dug up a ton of dirt on pretty much everyone featured in it, and now one of the big cat enthusiasts is telling his side of things. While Tiger King largely focused on the heated relationship between Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin, there was also significant scenes with Exotic's mentor-from-afar, Bhagavan "Doc" Antle. It's safe to say the zoo owner was not a huge fan of how things played out onscreen, and Doc Antle's response to Tiger King's portrayal of him addressed why.
Aside from Exotic and Baskin, Antle was one of the subjects most prominently featured in Tiger King. Various interviewees insinuated Antle's South Carolina compound, The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.), was run like a cult in which he indoctrinated various young female employees. Antle was also accused of breeding big cats to create more cubs for visitors to pet, and then euthanizing older animals that could no longer bring in as much money.
In a March 31 post on his Instagram account, Antle flatly denied these claims. "The insinuation that T.I.G.E.R.S/Myrtle Beach Safari is a cult that exploits, euthanizes, and incinerates tiger cubs is a reprehensible falsehood," Antle wrote. "T.I.G.E.R.S./MBS has never euthanized any tiger cubs or adult tigers — nor any other animal. The insinuation is as foul as it is without foundation."
Alongside the caption, Antle shared a 15-minute video piecing together numerous radio interviews he's done since Tiger King aired. In the interviews, Antle echoed his claims about the docuseries' portrayal of him.
Antle asserted Tiger King is a "quasi-fictional drama" rather than a documentary, going on to write:
Our cubs are not bred solely for the purpose of being a part of our interactive programs. They are bred as part of our captive tiger breeding program, which is designed to create a genetic backup for wild tiger populations. And contrary to assertions made in the Tiger King, our tiger cubs do not ever end up in sanctuaries, nor do they ever get euthanized. They remain our babies for their entire lives— either here on site at T.I.G.E.R.S., or they are transferred to an accredited zoological facility that is a partner in our breeding program (SST). We have in depth relationships with dozens of adult tigers and have more than 30 out on our day and night safaris.
Antle isn't the only subject of Tiger King to have beef with the series. Carole and Howard Baskin also publicly called out the documentary's creators for things they didn't like about the end product, calling it "salacious and sensational."
With all the legal messiness presented in Tiger King, plus its mega-hit status, it sure seems like this contention between the docuseries and its subjects will only grow over the coming weeks. Fans will just have to wait to see how everything unfolds now that all eyes are on these big-cat lovers.