Not that long ago, Doc Antle was one of the most revered animal trainers in America. Thanks to his uncanny ability to handle hard-to-manage animals such as tigers, he acquired viral fame with several Hollywood celebrities recruiting him for their movies and music. His private wildlife reserve witnessed a heavy throng of visitors, and his work was documented on a hit Netflix series. All this helped Doc Antle to garner a net worth of $10 million.
His fortune and long-held reputation are now on the line due to allegations of wildlife cruelty and smuggling brought against him by the authorities. Antle has, however, denied these allegations, maintaining that he will clear his name in no time. He has also revealed that his predicament is down to the animal activists influencing politicians. It sure promises to be a tough battle and as we wait to see what happens, let us break down how Doc Antle acquired his net worth.
His Myrtle Beach Safari Attracts Millions of Visitors Each Year
A primary source of Doc Antle’s net worth is his huge wildlife reserve or private zoo known as the Myrtle Beach Safari. Located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the zoo spans 50 acres and features a wild array of exotic animals such as tigers, elephants, chimps, orangutans, eagles, etc.
Members of the public get an opportunity to experience what is billed as the greatest hands-on animal experience in the world at a steep fee. As far back as 2015, Myrtle Safari Beach charged each visitor $339 while photos cost an extra $150 making for a total of approximately $500 per person. Given that the company averages 45 paying customers per tour and three tours over 26 weeks a year, it means that they potentially make as much as $1.75 million a year.
This is certainly a long way from Doc Antle’s humble beginnings. Born in Salinas, California, Doc Antle (real name Bhagavan Kevin Antle), hailed from a rich agricultural family and spent his childhood surrounded by horses and cows. He grew up competing in rodeos and training dogs. He subsequently headed out to China for some time. Antle would later return to the U.S. in the 80s and became interested in yoga and alternative medicine. By 1982, he acquired his first pet, a 100-pound tiger cub, and spent months training him to be friendly towards humans.
With a friendly tiger in toe, Doc Antle attended several conferences, circuses, and fairs where people were only too happy to dole out money to take pics with the animals. He later decided to settle down his operation in one permanent location and so was born his private zoo.
He Has Appeared in Several Hollywood Movies and Starred in the 2020 Hit Netflix Series, Tiger Kings
Doc Antle’s net worth has also benefitted from his work in Hollywood. To date, the respected animal trainer has supplied his talents to over 500 films, documentaries, TV shows, and advertisements of all kinds and has been well paid for it. Some of his popular movie credits include Doctor Dolittle, Mighty Joe Young, Ace Ventura, and Disney’s Jungle Book. The animal trainer and his animals have also appeared on popular TV shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show and he famously accompanied Britney Spears during her performance at the 2001 MTV Music Awards.
Doc Antle was also one of the star cast members of the hit 2020 Netflix docuseries, Tiger Kings: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness. The series, which chronicles the crazy world of big cat owners and private zookeepers in the U.S., ran for seven episodes and was the most-watched program on Netflix in 2020. It attracted the attention of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West and propelled Antle and his fellow cast members to new realms of fame. Sadly, they made zero money from it as paying them would have damaged the credibility of the whole thing.
Doc Antle Also Generates Impressive Income From Merch Sales
Aside from the income that Doc Antle makes from the paid tours offered at his wildlife reserves, his net worth also benefits from sales of merchandise. His wildlife facility carries items such as branded ladies’ tops, T-shirts, tank tops, and the likes which retail for as much as $30 apiece. Other items available at the online store are onesies for infants, pin collections, and board books for children. The facility also offers portrait books featuring a stunning collection of photographs of their big cats. It is estimated that the merch sales and the movie gigs add another million per annum to Doc Antle’s net worth.
The Good Doc Spends Thousands of Dollars Each Year to Feed Just One Animal
Many of Doc Antle’s detractors are quick to point out that he is commercializing animals for his own personal profits. He rejects this allegation though and has maintained that he is not using the income he generates to live some flamboyant lifestyle. Rather, a good chunk of it goes back to take care of the animals whose upkeep is quite expensive. For instance, the facility’s 9,000 pounds elephant known as Bubbles can consume several gallons of Hawaiian punch at a go.
The animal also consumes four bales of hay, 100 pounds of produce, 100 gallons of water, and a bucket of elephant chow all in one day meaning that it costs thousands of dollars each year to feed her. The situation is not different when it comes to the big cats. The adult tigers eat between $5,000 to $10,000 worth of food each year. Given that Antle’s facility hosts about 70 tigers at a go, it means that they possibly spend up from $350,000 to $700,000 to feed them annually.
Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Also Go To Support Conservation Efforts
Doc Antle also dedicates about 10% of the annual revenue generated from his facility to a non-profit organization he founded. Known as the Rare Species Fund, this is a grassroots organization that provides financial support and practical training to wildlife conservation initiatives. They also work closely with state, federal, and international bodies to develop and support sound wildlife policies and to secure funding for research, education, and initiatives.
To date, the Rare Species Fund has contributed more than a million dollars to wildlife initiatives throughout the globe, including in places such as South America, Africa, and Thailand. Some of the benefitting organizations include the Corbett Foundation located in India and the Small Cat Conservation Alliance dedicated to lesser-known endangered felines.
Doc Antle Has Been Accused of Animal Cruelty and Wildlife Trafficking
Ever since he decided to head into the big cats business in the 80s, Doc Antle has faced stiff opposition from animal activists who believe that these animals should be allowed to live their natural life in the wild rather than being used to put up shows for human beings. They have laid all sorts of claims against him and it seems they are finally succeeding as the famed animal trainer was charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty and wildlife trafficking in October 2020.
According to the authorities, Doc Antle trafficked several lion cubs between Virginia and South Carolina. They also claimed that he and his daughters; Tawny Antle and Tilakam Watterson, were involved in animal cruelty. All three denied the charges and Antle maintained that he has deep regards and feelings for the animals in his care and would never do anything to hurt them. He is also prepared to fight to protect his reputation.
- Doc Antle is one of the most well-known animal trainers in America.
- His Myrtle Beach Safari host an eclectic array of animals, including tigers and lions.
- Antle generates impressive revenue from the millions of visitors that throng his private zoo each year.
- He also rakes in additional income from movie and TV show appearances.
- The animal trainer has faced accusations of smuggling and animal cruelty which he rejects.