Animal Planet Show Is Staged, Abusive: Report
Creatures drugged, left near death: Mother Jones investigation
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jan 21, 2014 11:51 AM CST
Updated Jan 25, 2014 7:01 PM CST
In this May 17, 2012, photo, Ernie "Turtleman" Brown holds a snapping turtle he pulled from a pond in Lebanon, Ky.   (AP Photo/Dylan Lovan)

(Newser) – Hit Animal Planet reality show Call of the Wildman features its star, Ernie "Turtleman" Brown Jr., finding and trapping "nuisance" animals, apparently for the benefit of both locals and the creatures themselves. But the "reality" of the show is questionable, according to a Mother Jones investigation: The animals he catches are often brought to the production site, sometimes after being removed from their homes in the wild. That's just one of the moral and legal issues tied to the show, which has also been linked to illegally drugging animals, incorrectly filing official forms, and leaving creatures near death or worse.

Mother Jones recounts an episode in which Turtleman traps a raccoon at a house in Kentucky, apparently offering it a "last chance to avoid an untimely death" amid concerns it may have rabies. In the show, it turns out the animal actually has babies. But in reality, the animal is a male and the cubs were brought on set: "We paid a trapper to put cages around the state, and then caged them for multiple days, and then put them in an enclosed setting and had Ernie…capture them," says an insider. After filming, the babies were "almost dead" and had to be brought to a clinic, says the clinic's head; one didn't survive. In another case, a zebra was sedated while on set; producers say they weren't the ones who drugged it. Network and production bosses say that scenes are staged, but they argue that the animals used would otherwise be at risk of euthanasia. Click for the full investigation.

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Jul 5, 2014 11:13 PM CDT
Lou Bernardo
Jan 28, 2014 9:29 PM CST
All TV reality shows are staged. What else is new? The starving survivor on a desert island just happens to be "starving and struggling" with a camera, sound and producion crew following him around along with the food truck and mobile comforts of home for the crew. Get real reality groupies.
Jan 26, 2014 11:15 AM CST
This channel needs to change its name immediately. They have devolved from a channel that had a focus on animal conservation and observation to nothing more than a bunch of reality show actors doing stupid and dangerous things involving animals. Some of the shows have hardly anything to do with animals, but they continue to insert animal scenes so they can remain on the Animal Planet channel. Shameful.