January 23rd, 2014
05:21 AM ET

Animal Planet Show Investigated for Animal Abuses

One of Animal Planet's hit shows, "Call of the Wildman," is under scrutiny this morning for alleged animal abuses.

The show centers around a Kentucky wildlife rescuer called "Turtleman"  who bills his business as catching "nuisance" animals and releasing them back into the wild, giving them a "second chance."

But, according to a "Mother Jones" investigation,  that "second chance" may come with a price.

Some of the numerous allegations include: a zebra being sedated on set, entire scenes being "faked" or staged,  and producers procuring animals from farms or trappers, strictly so "Turtleman" could pretend to rescue them.

The investigation has prompted ethical issues tied to show and Animal Planet released a statement to "New Day," saying in part:

"The life and welfare of all animals is of paramount importance to Animal Planet. It is core to our ethos that every animal's life has value... The notion that there is a culture of "neglect" at the only network that is devoted to celebrating and protecting animals is absurd. Claims in the "Mother Jones" article were brought to the production company's attention nearly nine months ago.  Where appropriate, Sharp Entertainment promptly instituted changes to further ensure the welfare of animals while filming the series. We are proud that our productions, including "Call of the Wildman," have provided countless animals with a second lease on life."

See the full discussion above between James West, who wrote this investigative piece,  and Dan Adler, Senior Vice President of Sharp Entertainment, the production company in charge of "Call of the Wildman."

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soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. H Cotter

    I do not believe any animals were abused or neglected...I would trust either one of these guys to watch after my babies (Yorkies)...I will never believe any bad press on them...people can say anything they want too because this is a free country but that doesn't mean we will believe it...

    January 24, 2014 at 12:12 am | Reply
  2. Animal Friend

    This is so upsetting. I worked for Dan Adler years ago and its a shame to see this behavior from a guy I had enjoyed working with. I have also worked with/spoke to many people who worked on this show and heard about many other cases not brought up in this video from Season 1- badgers kept in garbage cans with holes poked into it over night ready to be "rescued" the next day. I have also heard executive producer Jillian Horgan say "let's not talk about the fox... if we talk about the fox I'll cry." She also told me "you won't want to work on this show because its about trapping animals." I have also heard about many possums being kept in crates- some of them dead mixed in with living ones just being held as "backups" in case they need to fill time. This show is sickening, staged rescues. NOT a documentary about giving animals a second chance at life. Maybe the Turtle Hunter started out as a rescuer of animals, but this show (like many reality shows) has an aggressive schedule and can't wait around to find and help animals- they stage these scenarios and have to find the animals for their scenes in whatever way possible. If Dan claims he has full knowledge of what has happened the past three seasons, then he should be ashamed about these situations they have forced animals to be in. Anyone in this industry can tell you about the constant postings looking for staff for this show every season (and even mid seasons) because people couldn't stomach staying on the production and so every season had a turn around in staff. Clearly something wasn't right with what Sharp was doing, otherwise if it was such a wonderful show that protected animals I think people would have been more dedicated to sticking around. Thank you James West for exposing this.

    January 23, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Reply
  3. Joseph Stefano

    The Animal Planet is a great show that represent the real love and care about Animals.My wife and I do watch this show always, we do see a great things about all kind of Animals. I am asking CNN To be fair with their judgment about the Turtle Man or what they call him the Wild Man., He is considered to be a part of this show.
    The wild man ( The Turtle Man ) Do put his life at a high risk for the Animals with no exceptions- years passed and he never hurt any animals/ Be fair CNN and Thank you.

    January 23, 2014 at 9:16 am | Reply
  4. deborah

    disgusting example of animal abuse....People who enjoy it would be okay with abuse and possibly abuse animals or even worse people.

    January 23, 2014 at 9:01 am | Reply

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