One of the wildlife preserve owners who featured in popular Netflix series Tiger King has pleaded guilty to animal trafficking and money laundering.

Bhagavan “Doc” Antle oversaw the sale or purchase of lion cubs, tigers, cheetah cl=ubs and a juvenile chimpanzee, which are all protected as endangered species, according to the US Justice Department.

The 63-year-old faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 (£202,000) fines, after officials said he tried to hide animal payments as donations to his not-for-profit organisation.

A jury in June cleared Antle of five counts of animal cruelty, while the judge in that case dismissed four more animal cruelty charges he faced and all charges against his two daughters.

Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said Antle “held himself out as a conservationist” but “repeatedly violated laws protecting endangered animals”.

Joe Exotic. Pic: Santa Rosa County Jail via AP
Joe Exotic was jailed for 21 years Pic: Santa Rosa County Jail via AP

Investigators also found evidence that Antle and a co-conspirator had also used money made through the transportation and harbouring of illegal immigrants.

Antle operates Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina and is the founder of the Rare Species Fund, which isn’t run for profit.

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It’s the latest fallout involving someone from Tiger King, with its star, Joe Exotic, serving a 21-year prison sentence for trying to hire two different men to kill animal welfare activist Carol Baskin.

Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, had one year cut from his sentence last year as he began treatment for early-stage cancer.

The ongoing feud between Maldonado-Passage and Ms Baskin is a central theme to the show.

US News

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