Tiger King’s Doc Antle also claims he was misled about the nature of the show

One of the most interesting side characters apart from Tiger King’s main storyline was Doc Antle, who owned a more classy looking exotic animal park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Doc went by the title Mahamayavi Bhagavan Antle and often rode an elephant. His workers were primarily scantily clad, busty women, many of whom were said to be part of hisharem. Filmmakers interviewed a woman who worked there when she was a teenager. She heavily implied that Doc euthanized big cats when they were no longer profitable, said that living conditions for staff were disgusting and hinted that Doc seduced his young employees. It was described as cult-like and footage show on Tiger King supported this, as did other people interviewed about Doc. One of my favorite lines came from the weird guy with the small capuchin monkey, Tim Stark, (thanks Ashley and Katy on Twitter) who said he wanted to know how Doc “trains them women.” That was hilarious to me.

Like Carole Baskin, Doc has said that filmmakers misled him about the nature of the show, saying they were focusing on his conservation efforts. Doc did an interview saying he doesn’t have a harem, that there are a lot more men who work at his park than were shown and that he doesn’t euthanize his animals. Thanks to People for transcribing this. I can’t find the source video but People has clips on their site.

“Remember, this is not a documentary. This is a salacious, outrageous ride through a television show produced to create drama, to just tie you in to some crazy train wreck of a story between the feud of Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic, and the meltdown that ensued between two people who both are far too close to murder themselves, and I think a little bit of madness thrown in on their parts,” Antle said in a video interview with TMX.news.

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness — from co-directors and writers Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin — examines the life and crimes of Joseph Maldonado-Passage, a former country musician, Oklahoma zookeeper, gun enthusiast and big-cat keeper known as Joe Exotic. Maldonado-Passage owned an exotic animal park and boasted of having the largest number of big cats in America. He was found guilty in 2019 for paying a hitman $3,000 to kill Carole Baskin, who he considered his rival.

The series also gave audiences a behind-the-scenes look at Antle’s Myrtle Beach Safari. Reflecting on the docuseries, Antle alleged to TMX.news that he “worked with the director for two and a half years, saw him probably five or six times for several days in a row each time. That endless portrayal of a program that he was doing with us was purely about a wildlife conservation show about our work that we’re doing in Sumatra, Africa to save endangered species there. It was all about how the tigers that we have here have raised so much money that we’ve been able to go to Sumatra and create a new ranger station there … and that was the documentary that I worked on, and all of that stuff somehow found its way to the cutting room floor.”

Antle alleged that he didn’t know they were shooting Tiger King when he was being filmed: “It was not mentioned in any capacity that this show that I was working on would portray anything about Carole or Joe. Questions about Carole and Joe were a dozen or so thrown into hundreds of others, and I repeatedly told them I have no desire to be involved in some show where you’ve got the feud of Carole and Joe going on, it’s not my thing, leave me out of it. Over and over, that was the intention, and that’s what we worked towards.”

Antle also denied allegations that he and other big cat zookeepers euthanize their animals, calling those claims “outrageous TV.”

“They pushed several notions, the worst of which is that somehow tiger cubs exist in copious amounts and that these tiger cubs have a value only as children, and that that is a super short time, and then they’re just killed off afterwards,” he said. “Nothing more ridiculous has ever been said. No one does that.”

And when it came to his personal portrayal as polygamist with a cult of female employee followers, Antle said the docuseries didn’t paint the whole picture of his animal park.

“I’m a single guy. My wife died 25 years ago, the mother of my son and daughter, my youngest ones, and I’ve never been married since. I have girlfriends, I’m a single guy. This massive judgmentalness [sic] of somehow I’m not supposed to have girlfriends or something is just off my rocker here with how they got to this point,” he said. “They are just looking for something to be outrageous. The girls that they are showing throughout the facility … these are the girls that are the wives of staff who live here, these are my grandchildren, these are my grandchildren’s fiancés, this are my son’s fiancée, this is a variety of ladies who devote their time here that are part of a team. The team is half men. Did you see any men in the series? They cut them all out to make it appear that this is a girl place.”

[From People]

I watched the interview on People’s site and Doc does seem sane and like he’s mostly telling the truth, but he came across that way on camera too. He seemed the most “normal,” until filmmakers got one of his old employees on the record. I bet he does get rid of tigers when they’re no longer profitable and that he also tries to pull in the women who work for him. Doc also said that filmmakers showed John Finlay, Joe’s first husband, with teeth that were filed down to accommodate his prosthetic teeth and that’s not how his teeth regularly look. They asked him to take his shirt off so he looked even more like a hick. If you look at John’s Facebook page he has great smile and looks more clean cut. Doc said they did they same for Saff, the man with a missing arm (he goes by he and him pronouns), by asking him to remove his prosthetic arm that he normally wears and sitting him next to a dumpster for the interviews. I wondered about the settings! They were SO trashy! Anyway I half believe Doc in that I’m sure the show was sensationalized, but I also think he’s up to more than he’ll ever admit. The truth is somewhere in between, as it usually is.

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21 Responses to “Tiger King’s Doc Antle also claims he was misled about the nature of the show”

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  1. MariaS says:

    He’s full of shite. He’s in the business of exploitation, not conservation. The conservation of big cats is accomplished by protecting their natural habitat and stopping poaching/sport hunting, NOT breeding them to make money off petting them, only to euthanize them to avoid the cost of feeding and caring for them. It’s disgusting that so many talk show hosts have had him on, thereby normalizing the owning and exploitation of these animals. The film makers have a lot to answer for, but showing what a creep this guy is isn’t one of them.

    • SKF says:

      Yeah, and he gives himself away when he talks about his important conservation work in Sumatra, Africa. Sumatra is in Indonesia, genius. You’d probably know that if you were actually focused on conservation. Tigers are native to eastern Russia, northeastern China, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. IE: Asia. There are no tigers in Africa.

  2. yiza says:

    I 100% believe the woman who they got on who is an ex-employee and who was drawn into his cult of female followers. Even if he is single, he is gross and sketchy AF and doesn’t like that this was blown wide open for the world to see. Also I don’t believe for a second that these people are doing anything but exploiting animals. That is not conservation. There he was riding around on an elephant. Do you know what kind of cruel practices you have to use to break an elephant like that?

  3. emmy says:

    I will never be able to express how I felt about the show, it was just bonkers.

    This guy seems manipulative and greedy. Even if you don’t take into account the women, he doesn’t come off well. As long as he uses these animals to make money, my opinion of him will not change. Doesn’t matter what Netflix does with the rest of it.

    I think there are enough aspects of the whole saga and of the parks that nobody disputes that make me think these people are a bit nuts. And Joe is in prison. So there is that. My feelings towards Carol are mostly that, feelings. I get a weird vibe from her and I do want to know about her finances. But John Finlay did not come off bad. Yeah, I wondered about the shirtlessness. If he wanted to put in his teeth and they wouldn’t let him, that should’ve been a red flag for him. But he was pretty smug about being straight which was so off-putting. He was looking for a meal ticket and while Joe seemed fine with that, it makes me think he’s not some innocent soul who got duped. None of them are!

    If you take out 50% of the crazy, it’s still insane.

    The two people I feel genuinely sad for are Travis and his mom. Oh god, his mom.

    • Mel M says:

      My husband and I got halfway through episode two and he said he was fine and couldn’t watch it anymore because the people were just so awful. That’s the first time he’s ever stopped watching a show with me.

      I also believe that the ex employee was telling the truth. She seemed genuinely embarrassed/uncomfortable talking about it at some points and that saying it out loud maybe made her realize just how gross it all was. I think they are all looney toons though. These people that seem to get off on big cats, I just don’t understand it. I love big cats too and think they are amazing beautiful creatures but the buzz are stuff these people did and said was beyond normal admiration IMO.

  4. Zapp Brannigan says:

    His place was raided in December so something is up. Each and every person in that show terrified me and they are only interested in the animals for what they can get out of them money, “fame” or ego stroking, not one of them was concerned about the animals. I was majorly annoyed how the film makers seemed to brush over how these men were buying not only animals but people too, they all seemed to have groomed (for want of a better word) younger spouses (In Joe Exotic’s case grooming them with meth it would seem)

  5. caitlinsmom says:

    Point of fact- Sumatra is not in Africa. It is an Island in Indonesia. I have a hard time believing his claims about doing all kinds of conservation work if he’s can;t even get the supposed location of that good work correct. .

  6. KBeth says:

    He’s just annoyed because he has been exposed as the vile piece of trash he is.

    • Brandy Alexander says:

      Yeah, I agree. I think he was bragging, thinking people were going to be so impressed with him for having these young ladies “worshipping” him and was surprised at the reaction he got. Now he’s trying to take it back.

  7. MellyMel says:

    His story was the one I wanted more information on, especially since his place apparently got raided a few months back but no reason was given. And I totally believe the former trainer that worked there. Just a weird and sketchy guy all around. Also the only person who seemed to have no problem with how he was portrayed on the show is Joe, because of course.

    • Sof says:

      He posted on Instagram that they never got raided. According to him, the state closed a small zoo and wanted to know if they were the ones who had rescued the lions.

      I haven’t finished watching the show (I’m about to watch episode 5) but it’s pretty obvious that it was edited to tell a specific story and lead the audience to believe a specific narrative. That being said, I dislike anyone who owns wild animals as pets, sometines even sanctuaries. Their conservation should exclusively be in the countries they originate from, not all over the world.

  8. Aria says:

    I cant understand why the american government didnt shut down these roadside park?? I’m horrified by seeing these.

    • Chickaletta says:

      Aria, if you want to be outraged, Doc’s business is not the worst even in his own town. Look up the Waccatee Zoo and Lila the tiger (maybe 5-10 miles from the tiger preserve that Doc Antle runs). Citizens have, for years, repeatedly reached out to the police and government to shut that awful place down but it is always someone else’s problem.

    • pottymouth pup says:

      I’d be willing to be that the animals bred and aged out at these zoos are sold to the folks who hold caged hunts of exotics for folks like Don Jr.

      These places remain open for the same reason puppy mills: there are people in the government who get a lot of money from lobbyists for Ag businesses that do not want any regulation (and wants to make sure they continue to get away with violations of the regs we do have in place)

  9. Lurkers says:

    Doc does have a lot more male employees than the series made it seemed. It’s much more balanced and you usually do see more females in fields related to animals.

    Doc is creepy and it’s pretty easy to believe that he engaged in some illegal practices but I think the show exaggerated some aspects. Specifically how he asked his female employees to dress. A lot of performance groups are conscious of their employees “look”. Remember is “Cheer” when Monica talked about how Morgan had more of the look judges like and the male cheerleaders said that Monica liked “her big boys” (i.e., muscles). I have friends who are fire eaters and their all-female troupe wear very skimpy outfits + promote a lot on social media.

    That being said, animal conservation doesn’t belong in the performance category. I don’t know what Doc’s deal is now, but I hope many more regulations are placed around animal ownership. Like creating larger habitats and capping the number of animals based on space + staff.

    There needs to be so much more oversight and regulation but I don’t think all exotic animal rescues/ zoos should be closed because having these close experiences with animals goes miles in terms of engaging people with animal conservations.

    • SKF says:

      Real animal conservation never involves petting what should be wild animals. If you can ride an elephant or touch a cub, you are not at a sanctuary, you are at a place that makes money off animal exploitation. People can learn love of animals by observation, not petting. Safari style zoos for those who can’t go on real safaris. Doc Antle and all of his ilk are exploiting animals for commercial gain. The constant breeding is a dead giveaway – where do all of those cubs go?? And anyone who cross breeds tigers and lions is a nasty piece of work – it is incredibly cruel for the resulting offspring. Sorry; but there is zero value in places like this. People need to wake up.

  10. Ann says:

    The series was very edited. It was extremely well done but still obviously edited. I believe some of what Doc is saying, like the making Joe’s ex look way more bumpkin than he is, but the stuff about his personal life is utter BS. I believe the lady they interviewed. He is operating a sex cult/exotic animal emporium. All the women look the same and worship him while performing very dangerous tasks that he profits from. Cult is the only way to describe it.

  11. Noodle says:

    This guy seemed the most sinister of all of them, to me. The fact that he has a crematorium on the premises is just all kinds of creepy. He is also breeding Ligers, which is a terribly cruel practice. Ligers die eventually because they lack the ability to stop growing, as a result of their genetics. Basically, they get so big they cannot maintain life anymore, and this goes for every. single. one. Anyone who breeds Ligers is cruel and inhumane, and shouldn’t have a license to care for animals.

  12. Andrea says:

    I definitely think he is just annoyed for being viewed poorly by mistreating women half his age. How did he think he was going to look? Single or not, dating women half your age, making them work ungodly hours is going to be viewed poorly by anyone.

  13. K says:

    He’s a total creep. You could tell just by his body language, manner of speaking to the interviewer and the whole guru name change stuff that he’s a cultist and megalomaniac. He’s just more business savvy and successful at manipulating people long term than the others. Of course he’s going to be pissed when he gets that unflattering reality tv edit, but he chose to be on camera and even do some gossiping. He could have kept his mouth shut, but they all wanted the attention. Everybody featured in this show comes off like a fool, dumb trash, pathetic or evil.