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Tue Jan 21, 2014, 09:09 PM

Drugs, Neglect and Death: Behind the Scenes at Animal Planet

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/01/animal-abuse-drugs-call-of-the-wildman-animal-planet

With a marquee Sunday night slot, Call of the Wildman regularly attracts more than a million viewers; for the fourth quarter of 2011, it was the network's most-watched series. When the episode about the raccoon cubs, "Baby Mama Drama," aired in July 2012, it pulled in 1.6 million viewers to become the show's highest-rating episode up to that point. Thanks in part to Call of the Wildman, Discovery Communications, Animal Planet's parent company, was among the top three fastest-growing ad-supported cable networks in 2012. The trend continued in 2013.

With three seasons under its belt, Call of the Wildman is part of Animal Planet's ongoing shift away from educational programming to reality TV. "We're not looking to be a natural history channel," Animal Planet group president Marjorie Kaplan told the New York Times in 2008. "We're looking to be an entertainment destination." The network recently aired two documentary-style programs purporting to present evidence that mermaids are real.
A Mother Jones investigation reveals numerous instances of alleged animal mistreatment, the result of what sources describe as cavalier and neglectful production practices.

For Call of the Wildman, Animal Planet teamed up with a production company called Sharp Entertainment, which specializes in what has become known as "guided reality": shows that unearth outlandish characters and heavily produce their stories. Other hits in its catalogue include Doomsday Preppers, Punkin Chunkin (about the cult sport of catapulting pumpkins), and Extreme Couponing. Call of the Wildman follows the exploits of Ernie Brown Jr., a.k.a. "Turtleman," a wily wildlife rescuer from Lebanon, Kentucky, "armed with country wits as sharp as the steel blade he carries." Wearing a broad-brimmed hat and displaying a toothless grin, Turtleman captures critters causing headaches for homeowners or businesses, with his buddy Neal James in tow—and always with his bare hands.

Animal Planet's parent company, Discovery Communications, states, "Our commitment to creative and innovative programming is matched only by our steadfast commitment to honesty and integrity in everything we do," and that Discovery expects contractors "to comply with similar ethical and legal standards." But the raccoon incident is just one of numerous instances on Call of the Wildman sets of alleged animal mistreatment and possible infringements of state and federal law, the result of what sources describe as cavalier and neglectful production practices. A seven-month Mother Jones investigation—which drew on internal documents, interviews with eight people involved with the show's production, and government records—reveals evidence of a culture that tolerated legally and ethically dubious activities, including: using an animal that had been drugged with sedatives in violation of federal rules; directing trappers to procure wild animals, which were then "caught" again as part of a script; and wrongly filling out legal documents detailing the crew's wildlife activities for Kentucky officials.

When asked about these allegations, Animal Planet arranged for an interview with Sharp Entertainment that also included Matthew Hiltzik, a top Manhattan crisis manager who has worked for celebrities like Justin Bieber. The producers said that they have investigated allegations of animal mistreatment that were brought to their attention last May by a staffer. "We've always made the humane treatment of animals our top priority," says Dan Adler, a Sharp senior vice president.


More at the link, the details are shocking and almost certainly illegal.

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Reply Drugs, Neglect and Death: Behind the Scenes at Animal Planet (Original post)
LeftyMom Jan 2014 OP
Beringia Jan 2014 #1
Bryce Butler Jan 2014 #2
LeftyMom Jan 2014 #3

Response to LeftyMom (Original post)

Wed Jan 22, 2014, 11:47 AM

1. Animal Planet


Entertainment, so animal welfare is a moot point with them. They want to make money and gain audiences.

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Response to LeftyMom (Original post)

Wed Jan 22, 2014, 07:19 PM

2. Discovery Communications and A&E Networks...

have gone down the toilet. (A&E owns the History Channel) The only educational channel I can stomach is the Smithsonian channel.

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Response to Bryce Butler (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 22, 2014, 07:34 PM

3. History International used to be good. When it became "H2" it went all Hitler/Aliens/Reality.

Luckily there's still PBS and most of the good BBC stuff winds up online.

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