Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness shot to massive popularity in a short period of time. The Netflix docu-series is a wildly fascinating look inside the big cat industry, with its story primarily following the life of Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic. Tiger King directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin made plenty of room for fellow big-cat zookeeper Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, but as it turns out, Antle hasn’t exactly been thrilled about his portrayal in the docu-series, and has a lot of feelings on the matter.
PETA’s Katherine Sullivan recently denounced Tiger King for failing to expand upon the abuses facing the big cats included in the docu-series. In that same vein, Doc Antle also criticized the true crime documentary for the way it portrayed him and his zoo, the Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina. In an Instagram post that has since been deleted (via PopCulture), Antle shared a message on behalf of his Myrtle Beach Safari staff. Here’s what he wrote:
We are very disappointed that our facility was mentioned in the new Netflix series. We can only assume it is because Doc Antle has been such a high profile wildlife personality for so many decades that his association would create more buzz. It is important to understand that this series is not a documentary; it's sensationalized entertainment with paid participants. Tiger King is the bizarre story of Joe and Carole and their feud. These characters are not representative of experts in the wildlife sector or world class facilities like ours here in Myrtle Beach. Myrtle Beach Safari has been recognized by the state of South Carolina as one of the pre-eminent wildlife facilities in the United States. We've also received international accolades for the critical role we provide with our qualified, captive breeding programs and our global conservation efforts of threatened and endangered species.
Welp, not everyone was going to be happy with Tiger King. Per Doc Antle, the “sensationalized entertainment” clearly rubbed him and others in the wrong way. While the post has been removed, co-director Eric Goode confirmed to Rolling Stone that Antle was disappointed with the way he was portrayed in the docu-series. As was Carole Baskin, the animal rights activist that Joe Exotic allegedly planned to have killed.
Doc Antle had more to say in his now-deleted post, defending himself and his business against the alleged accusations that he and his staff mistreated the tigers. In his words:
Myrtle Beach Safari adheres to all USDA guidelines, and our animals are treated with the utmost care. We have never had a USDA violation and work collaboratively with various state and federal wildlife agencies to ensure our animals receive the very best life each and every day. Over the decades we have heard every sort of fantasy scenario regarding our facility. Many of these less-than-flattering mistruths have been manufactured by those in the animal rights movement that oppose animal ambassador programs of any sort. In the end, we hope you will come visit us and judge for yourself. Every visitor to our facility quickly recognizes the magical place we have created. We remain open during these challenging times with both Day and Night Safari options. Our tours are held outdoors and our 50-acre preserve provides plenty of area for social distance.
Myrtle Beach Safari has indeed remained open during the coronavirus pandemic, and Doc Antle has continued his day-to-day duties despite the increased interest concerning his life and job. Meanwhile, Joe Exotic filed a $94 million lawsuit from prison, suing the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Federal Wildlife Service for allegedly putting him out of business, among several other allegations.
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is currently available to stream on Netflix. For more on what to watch, be sure to check out our midseason guide.