PETA's looking to put Doc Antle in the USDA's crosshairs because Larsa Pippen posted pics with some of his exotic animals ... but Doc says PETA's got it twisted.
The animal rights org fired off a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture requesting an investigation into the 'Tiger King' star for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act ... stemming from Larsa's recent visit to his Myrtle Beach Safari.
In the letter, obtained by TMZ ... Debbie Metzler, PETA's Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement, cites Larsa's visit there this week and her photos with adult and juvenile tigers showing direct public contact.
She claims the USDA warned Antle 15 years ago his methods of photographing the public with large adult cats was a violation of the law ... and she wonders why the "USDA has apparently refused to take any meaningful action to prevent Antle from allowing these types of dangerous, direct contact stunts."
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PETA's also worried Larsa and her children's close contact with the tigers and an infant chimpanzee put the animals at risk of contracting COVID-19, claiming the encounters are another violation of the law.
But, Doc says PETA's got the wrong idea about Larsa's visit ... he claims Larsa took a tour, which included goofing around with tiger cubs and primates, before shooting footage for a PSA on wild tiger conservation.
Doc tells us it was a closed set with larger adolescent tigers in a pool, with strict protocols in place that are compliant with USDA guidelines and recommendations.