Local wildlife expert, animal trainer weighs in on CA lion mauli - WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC

Local wildlife expert, animal trainer weighs in on CA lion mauling

Posted: Updated:
Director Doc Antle fed one of the baby tigers Monday afternoon at Myrtle Beach Safari. Director Doc Antle fed one of the baby tigers Monday afternoon at Myrtle Beach Safari.
  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Woman survives 8 days in car; uses plastic bags to catch rain for water

    Woman survives 8 days in car; uses plastic bags to catch rain for water

    Friday, August 1 2014 7:58 AM EDT2014-08-01 11:58:44 GMT
    An Oklahoma woman survived eight days in her car after it went down an embankment into a muddy ditch. Kay Springer was out running errands when she became disoriented. Her car ran off the road and sat there more than a week until she was rescued. Her car got stuck in the mud near the Arkansas River below Highway 62. She couldn't climb out of the steep embankment.Doctors say she became disoriented because her cancer came back and the tumor had swelled up and basically knocked her unconscious.S...
    An Oklahoma woman survived eight days in her car after it went down an embankment into a muddy ditch. Kay Springer was out running errands when she became disoriented. Her car ran off the road and sat there more than a week until she was rescued. Her car got stuck in the mud near the Arkansas River below Highway 62. She couldn't climb out of the steep embankment.Doctors say she became disoriented because her cancer came back and the tumor had swelled up and basically knocked her unconscious.S...
  • Quintuplets released from hospital 4 months after being born

    Quintuplets released from hospital 4 months after being born

    Friday, August 1 2014 5:16 PM EDT2014-08-01 21:16:05 GMT
    Steven and Michelle Seal, took home their quintuplets after waiting months for the babies to be well enough.Thursday the family of 6 left Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas with all 5 babies. The four girls and one boy were born in March. It was the first set of quintuplets to be delivered at Baylor Hospital. They were born about two months early. The first baby went home June 6 but it wasn't until this week that the final baby was released. It was an emotional day for the nurses and ...
    Steven and Michelle Seal, took home their quintuplets after waiting months for the babies to be well enough.Thursday the family of 6 left Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas with all 5 babies. The four girls and one boy were born in March. It was the first set of quintuplets to be delivered at Baylor Hospital. They were born about two months early. The first baby went home June 6 but it wasn't until this week that the final baby was released. It was an emotional day for the nurses and ...
  • Former CCU star Dustin Johnson off tour after positive drug test, magazine reports

    Former CCU star Dustin Johnson off tour after positive drug test, magazine reports

    Friday, August 1 2014 2:38 PM EDT2014-08-01 18:38:50 GMT
    Dustin Johnson - WBTW photoDustin Johnson - WBTW photo
    Dustin Johnson will be off the PGA Tour for 6 months after testing positive for cocaine, the website Golf.com reported Friday.Johnson,who played golf at Coastal Carolina University, announced Thursday that he w
    Dustin Johnson will be off the PGA Tour for 6 months after testing positive for cocaine, the website Golf.com reported Friday.Johnson,who played golf at Coastal Carolina University, announced Thursday that he w
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -

It may be one of Myrtle Beach's best kept secrets – the world's largest cat, which spends most of the year at the Myrtle Beach Safari preserve off Highway 707 in Socastee.

It's a combination of a lion and a tiger, weighing in at more than 900 pounds, and standing 11 feet tall.

Doc Antle is the director of Myrtle Beach Safari, who has been working with wildlife for more than thirty years.  He knows he can't afford to make any mistakes when it comes to handling the wild cats.

"If the animal is not being kept by a professional team of trainers who are always there in a team, the animal's ability to be trustworthy is very small," Antle said.

He and his team of trainers have a sound and proven system in place.  They bring thousands of tourists onto the preserve every year, where they can interact up close and personal with the exotic creatures.

But incidents, like the most recent deadly lion mauling in California, raise questions among the wildlife experts about the safety of hands-on tours like Antle's.

He says he wasn't surprised to hear about the woman who was killed, but while many others are quick to blame the animals' unpredictable nature, he says the humans are to blame.    

"Human error is the great mistake, same thing that happens in a lot of prisons," he said.  "Somebody doesn't pay attention to the dramatic situation."

Antle is quick to point out that to be properly trained in dealing with big cats, it takes more than a decade. 

His employees start out as interns and work with the animals as babies for years before they're allowed to interact with the fully grown ones.  On top of that, his staff of more than twenty trainers all live on the preserve, and interact with the animals on a daily basis.

"People always work in teams -- usually four or five people are out at a time, anytime there's any wildlife out."

Antle explained that even the most deadly creatures respond differently to big groups of animals or humans.  One human could more easily fall prey, while a group is more intimidating to the big cats.

When they aren't out in the open, the animals are caged in by 18 foot tall fences.

Doc's reputation for safety and professionalism extends around the world, with his animals starring in movies like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.

Despite recent fears, he knows it won't stop people from coming to share the wildlife experience.

"To see those little baby tigers up close, and have them in your lap, and interact with them -- that's a bucket list fulfilling opportunity."

Myrtle Beach Safari opens its 2013 tourist season Saturday, March 16.  Tours cost $239 per person, and a portion of the fee goes to animal rescue programs.  To learn more or book a tour, click here.

Powered by WorldNow

101 McDonald Court
Myrtle Beach, SC 29588

Telephone: 843.293.1301
Fax: 843.293.1760
Email: news@wbtw.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company