×

‘Tiger King’s’ Doc Antle and Britney Spears Shared Stage for ‘I’m a Slave 4 U’ VMAs Performance

SPEARS Britney Spears performs with snake
Beth A Keiser/AP/Shutterstock

Before “Tiger King” became a water-cooler sensation, a key character in Netflix’s bizarre true-crime documentary had his own moment in the spotlight.

“Tiger King” enthusiasts discovered that Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, an animal trainer who worked closely with series’ central character Joe Exotic, had a surprising connection to Britney Spears. As fate would have it, Antle was on stage with the pop star during her infamous MTV Video Music Awards performance in 2001, where Spears was draped in a seven-foot long python to sing “I’m a Slave 4 U.” In the performance, which has since cemented its place in pop culture, Antle can be seen standing in a cage handling tigers.

Antle has ties to Hollywood, having worked as an animal expert on films like “Dr. Dolittle” and “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.” He appeared frequently on late night talk shows and also provided creatures for movies including “The War,” “The Jungle Book,” “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls,” “Mighty Joe Young” and “The Jungle Book 2.”

However, it was his affiliation with Spears that has captured the attention of the world wide web.

Another central figure in “Tiger King” has been linked to Spears — or so it appears via a photo from the 2002 VMAs that has been circulating the internet. It shows Spears sitting next to a leopard-clad woman who bears a distinct resemblance to Carole Baskin, the main antagonist of Joe Exotic in “Tiger King.” It’s unclear if the woman pictured is indeed Baskin or whether the photo was doctored.

Since “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” debuted on Netflix in March, the docu-series has become the most-watched title in the U.S., according to the streaming service. It was also the most-tweeted about show of last week. The seven-episode show — full of strange characters, ominous plot twists and questionable tattoos — explores the world of big cat owners, including Oklahoma zoo owner Joe Exotic and Baskin, an animal activist and owner of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Fla.