"Tiger King" star Bhagavan “Doc” Antle reflected on the time he worked with Britney Spears for her iconic "I'm A Slave 4 U" performance at the 2001 VMAs.
"Tiger King" star Bhagavan “Doc” Antle and Britney Spears go way back, didn't you know? It was recently discovered that the professional animal trainer and stars of the wildly popular Netflix docu-series, Tiger King: Murder, Madness, and Mayhem, was actually onstage during Britney's iconic performance of her hit song, "I'm A Slave 4 U," at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards.
Although the performance is most memorable for the moment in which Britney has a Burmese python draped over her shoulders while she struts around on stage, there was also a live tiger involved, which was handled by Doc himself. The performance begins with a young Brit locked in a cage with the tiger before she breaks out onto the stage, and Doc can be seen in the background controlling the wild animal for the most of the performance.
“She was such a darling, totally just a fanatic person wanting a perfect performance,” Doc said about the then-19-year-old Britney. “We were there for several days rehearsing so that the tigers would be relaxed and happy to be out there and that everything could be smooth and taken care of as best as possible. She was there rehearsing and working—just the hardest working, sweetest young girl, out there making all the pieces click together.”
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“I have total confidence in that tiger. I knew him since he was a baby,” he continued. “He’s about seven years old right there [and at the] peak of his game. A super macho, aggressive male tiger. That’s the tiger that you go somewhere like that with because he cares less about the fireworks, the gas explosions, the banging music. He’s totally concerned with just holding his own and being cool.”
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The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.) founder and Myrtle Beach Safari owner says Britney's always welcome to visit the park, but he realizes that she may not be too keen on it right in the midst of all the drama surrounding the series. “Brit knows who we are and where we are,” he said. “Right now, I’m sure with the Hollywood vibe, she’d be afraid that it’s on fire with all of this crazy salacious, insanity that has been made into Tiger King.”