Say what?! As if the hit Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness didn’t already have enough twists and turns, here’s a surprise we didn’t see coming: Doc Antle and Britney Spears once shared the same stage. The zookeeper played a critical part during the pop star’s iconic performance of “I’m a Slave 4 U” at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards.

As the 38-year-old dropped jaws with a yellow python draped over her shoulders, Doc, 60, can be spotted handling a gorgeous tiger behind the beauty. Fans were first to point out the connection with screenshots shared to social media. While the snake has become a fixture in pop culture, some think the tiger was more impressive. “There was also a tiger — an adult tiger — in that performance. That was a big deal, even though it wasn’t featured as much in the show,” snake handler Mike Hano told MTV in 2016. “Britney didn’t have to handle that thing like she did the snake, but in some ways, that was really a bigger deal for me.” Sadly, Doc confirmed to the outlet the tiger had passed away along with the famous python.

Britney Spears and Doc Antle Tiger King 2001 MTV Video Music Awards Snake
Kevin Mazur Archive 1/WireImage

Doc has been a favorite amongst celebrities for some time now. In February, YouTuber Logan Paul stopped by his Myrtle Beach Safari and posed with several of Doc’s animals including a cheetah. The animal lover has also made appearances on some major shows such as The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.

Since Doc’s appearance in the hit Netflix docuseries, there has been a lot of chatter about the treatment of animals at his Myrtle Beach Safari. He expressed how “very disappointed” he was in his portrayal in the “sensationalized” footage in a now-deleted Instagram post. “Myrtle Beach Safari has been recognized by the state of South Carolina as one of the pre-eminent wildlife facilities in the United States. We’ve also received international accolades for the critical role we provide with our qualified, captive breeding programs and our global conservation efforts of threatened and endangered species.”

 

He continued, “Myrtle Beach Safari adheres to all USDA guidelines, and our animals are treated with the utmost care. We have never had a USDA violation and work collaboratively with various state and federal wildlife agencies to ensure our animals receive the very best life each and every day. Over the decades we have heard every sort of fantasy scenario regarding our facility. Many of these less-than-flattering mistruths have been manufactured by those in the animal rights movement that oppose animal ambassador programs of any sort. In the end, we hope you will come visit us and judge for yourself.”

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