HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A woman sued Myrtle Beach Safari and its owner, Tiger King’s Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, in February after she said a monkey escaped the zoo and bit her inside her home, according to court documents.
Shirley Ann Smothers claims in initial court documents that a monkey escaped from the zoo on April 21, 2021, and bit her at her Socastee-area home after the primate was “negligently and recklessly allowed to wander from [the zoo’s] premises.”
The documents claim that she was at home when she was startled by a noise on her deck. When she opened the door, she saw a monkey sitting on the railing, which then lunged at her and bit her left arm.
“As a direct and proximate result of being attacked by the Defendants’ monkey, the Plaintiff suffered excruciating and painful personal injuries, had to endure a series of long and agonizing rabies treatments and other medical care for the same, incurred expensive medical bills resulting thereform, and was traumatically frightened to the point of causing her extreme anxiety and paranoia from which she currently suffers,” according to the documents.
The zoo knew that the monkey had a tendency to “get loose,” according to the documents, which claim that Myrtle Beach Safari was negligent in letting it escape. The zoo also should have implemented measures to prevent animals from escaping and should have warned neighbors, according to the lawsuit.
Smothers is suing Myrtle Beach Safari, along with Antle’s organization, T.I.G.E.R.S. LLC, and Antle in the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Common Pleas. She initially asked for a jury trial. An “alternative dispute resolution” is scheduled for Sept. 1.
She is suing for an unspecified amount of money for her injuries and money she claims she lost because of the attack.
Antle’s legal answer to the lawsuit in March denies the allegations and points the blame on Smothers, claiming that “Any damages sustained by the Plaintiff as alleged in her Complaint were due to and caused by the negligence, carelessness and recklessness of the Plaintiff and her failure to act with reasonable care for her own safety and well-being at the time and place in question.”
He asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed, claiming that she “assumed the risk of participating in any activities” that took place at her home, according to the lawsuit.
A police report obtained by News13 last year states that the monkey left after biting Smothers and was later caught.
News13 reached out to Myrtle Beach Safari at the time to see if it had any involvement. Antle said he didn’t know whether one of his monkeys got out and bit the woman. The facility does have monkeys in it, he said, but he couldn’t say for sure whether the incident involved one of his monkeys, or if someone nearby owned a monkey.
Myrtle Beach Safari’s website currently lists chimpanzees and gibbons as “animal ambassadors” for the zoo.
News13 has reached out to attorneys for both Antle and Smothers but has not received a response.