If you're anything like us, you'll be using all your extra self-isolation time to binge-watch Netflix. Specifically, The Tiger King. Seriously, who's got time for reading books or puzzles (side note: joking, we absolutely do) when such a thrilling true-crime show has just dropped on the streaming service?
As with anything of this nature, the documentary has left us with loads of questions. What happened to Carole Baskin's first husband? Who were Joe Exotic's husbands? Can we find out more about Bhagavan 'Doc' Antle and his multiple wives?
Who is Bhagavan 'Doc' Antle?
'Doc', as he likes to be called, owns The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species, (T.I.G.E.R.S.) a 50-acre wildlife preserve located in South Myrtle Beach. He also owns Myrtle Beach Safari, a tour that runs through the preserve, offering punters an up close and personal experience with exotic animals. T.I.G.E.R.S claims the preserve is "a wildlife preservation organisation dedicated to promoting global conservation education through entertaining and interactive programs."
Joe Exotic admits in the documentary that he is inspired by Doc's work, while Mario Tabraue confirms that they have known each other for years. And while The Tiger King's main focus isn't South Myrtle Beach per se, many viewers were left wondering about the cult-like comparisons the zoo was receiving.
How many wives does Bhagavan 'Doc' Antle have?
In the Netflix documentary, Mario's wife alleges that Doc has three wives, while many of Joe Exotic's employees suggest it could even be more. During filming, Doc seemed to suggest something similar, telling the camera he has a "long-time girlfriend partner" in China, who has been living on the reserve since she was 17.
Then there's Ranjnee, who has been there 20 years, and Moksha, who has been there for 16 years, all who live in separate houses on his land. He refers to them as his "girls", leading many to assume he was in a relationship with them all.
But the T.I.G.E.R.S. owner has since spoken out to refute these claims, denying he's got three wives to Oxygen.com. He commented:
"When I say 'my girl,' it’s a cowboy saying, it’s not that these are my wives," he said, insisting his words had been taken out of context. "Sure I've had girlfriends and there’s girls I have had relationships with that have come and gone over the decades.
"I am absolutely not married nor have I been since my wife died over 20 years ago now," he said. "I’m not married and I certainly don’t have wives. I certainly am a single guy and I live in a house by myself."
How does Bhagavan 'Doc' Antle respond to the 'cult' accusations in The Tiger King?
In the second episode of The Tiger King, an ex-employee from South Myrtle Beach claims the zoo had a cult like feel, and she was made to work many hours a week for very little money. Barbara Fisher, who worked under Antle from 1999 to 2007, alleged that Doc liked to be his apprentices' first sexual partners so "they would be bonded to him in this way, where he felt like he could get them to do anything." She also suggested staff were made to live in cockroach-infested areas.
These, again, are claims Doc denies: "This is the ramblings of a crazy child who has a lot of, in my opinion, issues and somehow those have boiled up," he told Oxygen.com.
Where is Bhagavan 'Doc' Antle now?
Antle continues to run T.I.G.E.R.S today. According to a 2015 Rolling Stone interview, customers can go on a tour of the zoo three times a week during the summer, which cost $399 [£339] per person, and professional photos with the animals start at $150 [£127].
Myrtle Beach is very much open today [25 March 2020], and continue to share photos of people with the exotic animals on its social media channels.
The Tiger King is streaming on Netflix now.
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