Bhagavan Antle of Tiger King fame has been fined $10,000 and banned from owning or trading exotic animals for five years. File Photo by ZooFriend/Wikimedia Commons
Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Bhagavan Antle of Tiger King fame has been fined $10,000 and banned from owning or trading exotic animals for five years.
Antle, more commonly known as Doc Antle, was sentenced in a Virginia state court Tuesday for illegally purchasing endangered lion cubs to house at his Myrtle Beach Safari zoo business in South Carolina, Attorney General Jason Miyares said in a news release.
The wild animal trainer rose to fame when he was featured in the 2020 docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, which became a worldwide phenomenon at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The series documented the life of Joe Exotic, a fellow zookeeper in Oklahoma convicted for plotting to kill a third rival zookeeper named Carole Baskin.
In June, Antle was convicted of two charges of wildlife trafficking and two charges of conspiring to wildlife traffic, all felonies. The $10,000 fine represented the maximum fine of $2,500 for each of his four charges.
"In Virginia, we uphold the rule of law without exception, whether dealing with violent repeat offenders, big pharma, fraudsters and scammers, or wildlife traffickers," Miyares said. "This case sends a clear message that bad actors will not be tolerated in the commonwealth."
It was not immediately clear what would happen to the animals in Myrtle Beach Safari. The zoo's website still states it is open for the 2023 season.
Last June, Antle was arrested by the FBI and indicted for alleged money laundering believed to be proceeds from smuggling illegal immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border, according to court records obtained by UPI.
He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted in that case and has 35 violations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture dating to 1989.
Exotic, whose legal name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is imprisoned at a federal facility in Forth Worth, Texas, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons records. He is scheduled for release in 2035.