Bhagavan “Doc” Antle is a world renowned animal trainer and behaviorist who has devoted his life’s work to establishing intimate personal relationships with some of the planet’s most amazing animals. Doc is the Founder and Director of The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.) in Myrtle Beach, SC. And as the Executive Director of a non-profit conservation organization, the Rare Species Fund (RSF), Doc is committed to conserving wildlife across the globe. The philanthropic work of Bhagavan “Doc” Antle has raised more than $1 million for select wildlife conservation projects around the world.
I’m unbelievably lucky, if there is a charmed life, I’ve already led four of them. — Doc Antle — as told to Rolling Stone magazine’s Ian S. Port
Born Mahamayavi Bhagavan Antle in Phoenix, AZ in 1960, Bhagavan spent his formative years developing a love of animals on his parents’ cattle ranch in Southern California. Because of difficulty pronouncing his unusual name, he went by “Kevin” in school. Later, as a young man, Bhagavan traveled to China where he received a Doctoral degree in Chinese medicine, and picked up the nickname “Doc.”
In 1982, Doc was approached by Exxon Corporation representatives, and was asked to make a presentation with a tiger at the Exxon Annual Convention. By 1983, Doc was training tigers for Exxon’s “Put A Tiger In Your Tank” advertising campaign. His tigers were being seen in print and film all around the world. Doc’s tigers participated in the Exxon campaign for more than 6 years, becoming his first Animal Ambassadors.
Over the next couple of decades, Doc’s celebrity as an elite animal trainer grew. The calls came pouring in from Hollywood and New York. He and his animals made half a dozen appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He was booked by Britney Spears for the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, and worked on music videos for P. Diddy and Ashante, as well as multiple video projects for Janet Jackson.
Doc and his team of animal actors have also been featured on the big screen with the likes of Eddie Murphy (Dr. Dolittle), and Jim Carey (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective), as well as working on Disney’s Mr. MaGoo, The Jungle Book and Mighty Joe Young. The Rolling Stone magazine recently interviewed Doc and put together a compilation video entitled: Doc Antle’s Animal Actors.
After more than 30 years of success as an animal trainer, Doc’s primary focus has turned to conservation of the animals he loves in their native ranges. The Rare Species Fund supports small, on the ground projects worldwide. Projects like:
1) The Tiger Lantern Project, where solar lanterns are provided to local villages to reduce human/tiger conflict in central India.
2) The Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit in Zimbabwe, where RSF provides rangers with GPS and tracking equipment to fight poaching in Africa.
3) The Conservation Through Public Health program in Uganda, where RSF provides computers, cameras, GPS and scientific supplies for mountain gorilla research, as well as, camping gear for rangers to protect chimpanzees in the Impenetrable Forest.
All of the various conservation projects RSF supports are detailed on the Rare Species Fund website.
Away from the glaring lights of Hollywood, Doc Antle, the Rare Species Fund, and his troop of Animal Ambassadors have been instrumental in the production of educational programming such as Nat Geo Wild’s SuperCat, Nature’s Jaguar: Year of the Cat, PBS’s Big Cats, and many more. Additionally, Doc has contributed to vital genetics and behavioral research with Texas A&M and National Geographic, and Jaguar research with the Smithsonian Institute.
Doc Antle’s Rare Species Fund was a partner in establishing the U.S. Postal Service’s Save Vanishing Species stamp in 2011. It features the face of an Amur tiger cub. Net proceeds contribute to projects administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These projects work to conserve tigers, rhinos, great apes, marine turtles and African and Asian elephants.
Raising money for conservation and providing resources to researchers and rangers is not enough in today’s politicized regulatory environment. That is why Doc has also become involved with the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF). The ICCF brings together leaders at the highest level of government, business, and the NGO community to set the conservation and environmental agenda in an effort to tailor governmental policy and shape future legislation. Conservation is far more effective when directed by clear policy objectives and supported by political leadership. Doc believes that a strong government affairs strategy gives conservation efforts the best chance for success.
Save the Tigers… Save the World! — Doc Antle