‘Tiger King’: 6 Surprising Facts About Doc Antle Every Fan Should Know

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness continues ruling the Netflix charts — and for good reason. The seven-part docuseries features a unique cast unlike any other. Most of the nation remains focused on all things Joe Exotic and his longtime rival, Carole Baskin, but Doc Antle slipped into the background. Here are a few things about Antle that dedicated Tiger King fans need to know.

Is Mahamayavi Bhagavan Antle his real name?

Doc Antle - Tiger King
Doc Antle – Tiger King | Netflix

There’s a lot to unpack in Tiger King. With Oklahoma zookeeper, Joe Exotic, behind bars serving a 22-year sentence for a murder-for-hire plot against Baskin (and wildlife violations), “Doc Mahamayavi Bhagavan Antle” continues running his exotic zoo, T.I.G.E.R.S. in South Carolina.

Antle’s portrayal in the Netflix series didn’t sit well with him. Fans obsessed with the bizarre true-life stories have a lot of questions. For instance, is Antle’s name real?

The origin of “Doc” Antle’s name is a complicated one. He was born in Arizona in 1960 and Mahamayavi Bhagavan was the Hindu name given to him at birth from his mother who “nurtured an interest in Eastern philosophy,” as told via Rolling Stone in 2015.

Another 2001 article in Nashville Scene revealed even more. When Antle moved to Southern California, he went by the name “Kevin,” because kids had “difficulty pronouncing his unusual name”

Is Antle an actual doctor?

Some fans want to know how Antle earned the name “Doc” and if he’s a legitimate doctor in the medical field. As told in the docuseries, he’s a doctor of mystical science.

The details have more to do with what and where Antle studied to get that moniker, according to multiple outlets. After dropping out of high school, “Doc” studied abroad in China. Antle earned a doctoral degree in Chinese Medicine after years in the field.

How did Antle get involved with tiger training?

According to Screen Rant, Antle raised his first tiger cub in 1982. It all came about by way of an Exxon ad-campaign. Exxon reportedly approached Antle. He was to come up with a presentation for the Annual Exxon Convention in 1982.

What came of that presentation a year later was Exxon’s newest campaign, “Put a Tiger in Your Tank.” Antle and Exxon began a six-year relationship and Antle’s name became world renown.

Antle’s Rare Species Fund teamed up with the U.S. Post Office

Aside from the 5-acre safari in Myrtle Beach, South Caroline, Antle started the Rare Species Fund (RSF), which aims to support global wildlife. In 2011, RSF partnered with the U.S. Postal Service for the Save Vanishing Species Stamp.

The stamp, according to World Wildlife Fund, featured a tiger cub and proceeds were allocated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which dispersed funds to various conservation organizations.

His only marriage ended 25 years ago

According to a recent interview with Hit’s Fifi, Antle’s one and only marriage ended 25 years ago. His wife — the mother of his two children — died in a car accident.

“I am a guy that does date. I live alone in my house,” he said, referring to the three women who worked alongside him. “I have a few girlfriends now and they certainly know about each other, but I am by no means married to anybody or have a harem like they are suggesting.”

Antle has faced his own backlash over the years

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Tiger King, the new drama series that debuted on Netflix last week, is not a documentary, it is quasi fictional drama, more focused on shock value and titillation than fact. While focusing on the real life rivalry between Joe “Exotic” and Carole Baskin, the insinuation that TIGERS/ Myrtle Beach Safari is a cult that exploits, euthanizes and incinerates tiger cubs, is a reprehensible falsehood. TIGERS/MBS has never euthanized any tiger cubs or adult tigers — nor any other animal. The insinuation is as foul as it is without foundation. One of our most popular ambassador programs is our tiger cub interaction.  It is important to understand that all of our cubs are born here at the preserve and are part of our breeding program (Species Survival Trust or SST) that is conducted in partnership with Brian W. Davis, Ph.D, Professor of Genomics in the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences in the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine, and the founder of the Exotic Genome Repository.  This is an important distinction that separates our programs from others. 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 TIGERS, 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. Look at my son @KodyAntle on TikToc and IG. He has amazing relationships with so many adult tigers.

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With the information shown in Tiger King, Antle cleared the air on Theo Von’s podcast, The Truth Of It All.

“They asked me every question in the world,” he said of the docuseries. “99% of them had nothing to do with anything that was going to become Tiger King, they just pick and choose pieces.”

He added, “No tiger babies are ever going to be euthanized or pushed out of the way, they’re incredibly special to us.”

Previous backlash over the years include fines from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hit Antle with a fine for violating the Animal Welfare Act for “holding public petting events of cubs after poor barriers and boundaries were discovered,” Screen Rant noted.

Tiger King told of a 2019 raid of Antle’s compound to get to the bottom of the death of three of the lions. Antle released a statement to ABC 15 News.

“We have the three lions they’re fabulous little babies that are here with us. Many of our guests this summer all hugged them and met them and those lions are permanent residents here at the preserve. The lions are part of an ongoing investigation the state is working on and they wanted us to try and help them look at the trail of where the lions had come from and any ideas or evidence we had about what the lion’s lives had been before they moved here to Myrtle Beach Safari.”

ABC 15 News

Antle vehemently denies accusations against his character as portrayed in Tiger King. As posted to his Instagram, he calls the docuseries a “quasi-fictional drama, more focused on shock value and titillation than fact.”

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness is available on Netflix now.