Myrtle Beach Safari director, founder issues statement after viral video shows NFL star playing with exotic animals

Myrtle Beach Safari director, founder issues statement after viral video shows NFL star playing with exotic animals
Screenshot of Odell Beckam Jr's Instagram post showing the NFL star playing with a tiger cub at the Myrtle Beach Safari.

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The director and founder of the Myrtle Beach Safari is responding after a video showing New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr playing with exotic animals was shared on social media, drawing the ire of PETA.

Doc Antle released the following statement Wednesday night:

“As a society, we have lost our connection with wildlife. And, PETA does not want our world to regain that human-animal bond in any way, shape, or form. As part of PETA’s ongoing campaign to provide innuendo and misinformation, they take every opportunity to distort facts and fabricate stories in order to malign organizations such as Myrtle Beach Safari. We regret that some folks are being misled by PETA and others who don’t seem to care for accuracy, truth, and facts. But, here are the facts: Myrtle Beach Safari is neither a roadside zoo, nor any of the negative characterizations made by by PETA. Rather, at Myrtle Beach Safari our focus is on animal preservation, conservation, education, and research. In fact, 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 national accolades for the critical role we provide with our qualified, captive breeding programs which support global conservation efforts of threatened and endangered species.

To further correct the record, the federal and state regulators are our partners in ensuring animal welfare. And, we work with them in a collaborative and interactive way to ensure our animals receive the very best life each and every day. Unfortunately, PETA and similar organizations abuse the oversight process to achieve political gain. They file bogus complaints against wildlife organizations such as Myrtle Beach Safari, which are then rightly investigated and found to be meritless. Nonetheless, PETA is then able to claim that the organization was ‘investigated,’ which while technically true, is part of the larger ‘gotcha’ game they perpetuate.

Regarding ‘citations’ by federal regulators, these are actually termed ‘non-complaint’ items and are very common during routine inspections of any wildlife facility. What PETA neglects to report is that these items are most often corrected on the spot and are not considered a violation of federal animal welfare regulations. Myrtle Beach Safari has ALWAYS been in 100% compliance and never in violation of federal or state animal welfare laws.

Despite PETA’s shameful and unfounded allegations, Myrtle Beach Safari remains devoted and committed to educating the community, protecting endangered species, and creating special moments that help people understand the importance of protecting these species in the wild.”

As of Thursday, the clip, which was posted on the NFL star’s Instagram page, has been viewed more than 1.7 million times. PETA condemned the Myrtle Beach Safari, saying, in part, the exhibit “pimped out” the animals.

RELATED STORY: PETA responds after viral video shows NFL star playing with exotic animals at SC safari

Beckham’s Instagram post is below.

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