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Doc Antle slams Netflix's 'Tiger King' as a 'train wreck of entertainment'

Antle said the show was "salacious." But one of the directors responded to criticism from another subject of the series, saying, "We were completely forthright with the characters."
Bhagavan \"Doc\" Antle in \"Tiger King\" on Netflix.
Bhagavan "Doc" Antle in "Tiger King" on Netflix.Netflix

Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, a South Carolina zookeeper and one of the subjects of Netflix's "Tiger King," slammed the true-crime docuseries as a "train wreck of entertainment."

Antle said in an interview Tuesday with media company TMX News that directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin did not tell him that the series would be about the bitter feud between animal rights activist Carole Baskin and Oklahoma zookeeper Joseph Maldonado-Passage.

Maldonado-Passage, who is better known as Joe Exotic, is currently serving 22 years in prison for a number of crimes, including paying a hitman to kill Baskin.

The show also explores Baskin's life and the 1997 disappearance of her husband, Don Lewis. Maldonado-Passage alleges in the series that Baskin was responsible for her husband's death, which she has denied.

Due to the popularity of the series, authorities are asking for new leads on the case.

"This is not a documentary. This is a salacious, outrageous ride through a television show produced to create drama, to just tie you in to some crazy train wreck of a story between the feud of Carole Baskin and Joe Exotic,” Antle said.

Antle, who operates the Myrtle Beach Safari, said he worked with the directors for two and a half years and thought they were doing a wildlife conservation show about his work to save endangered species.

"Questions about Carole and Joe were a dozen or so thrown into hundreds of others. And I repeatedly told them, I have no desire to be involved in some show where you got the feud of Carole and Joe going on. It's not my thing," he said. "Leave me out of it."

Goode and Chaiklin could not immediately be reached by NBC News for comment on Wednesday.

But in a Los Angeles Times interview, Chaiklin responded to criticism of the show by Baskin, saying, "We were completely forthright with the characters."

"With any project that goes on for five years, things evolve and change, and we followed it as any good storyteller does," Chaiklin said. "We could have never known when we started this project that it was going to land where it did."

In the seven-part "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness," Antle is portrayed as a polygamist who has a cult of female followers. He accused the directors of sensationalizing the subjects and told TMX News that his wife died 25 years ago and he is a single man with girlfriends.

"This massive judgmentalness [sic] of somehow I’m not supposed to have girlfriends ... They are just looking for something to be outrageous," he said.

Antle also took issue with the documentary's alleging that he euthanizes lion cubs, a claim he strongly denies.

"They know that that’s not true and that euthanizing cubs is illegal, immoral and absolutely never happens here and never has,” he told the outlet.

In a separate interview with TMX News, Maldonado-Passage's ex-business partner, Jeff Lowe, said the Netflix series touched on "about 10 percent of the story" and that his portrayal in the show was unfair.

"We came here to help him," Lowe said of his and his wife's work to aid Maldonado-Passage with his zoo. "We got it back on its feet."

"We left to move away because we didn’t want to be in a zoo in Oklahoma, so the notion that we tried to steal the zoo from him is just ridiculous," Lowe said.