Guided Reality: On Dead Bats, Drugged Zebras and Choreographed Raccoons

Abby Zimet

In one more dispiriting step in our tawdry march from truth-telling to info-entertainment, Animal Planet's most-watched teevee show Call of the Wildman, which purports to document real-life "animal rescues," has been exposed as a series of scripted, staged dramatizations often featuring animals that have been drugged, trapped, neglected and otherwise illegally abused. An in-depth Mother Jones story, following a seven-month investigation, alleges a multitude of "legally and ethically dubious activities" by a company that claims to protect animals but is in fact so intent on becoming "an entertainment destination" it stoops to making fake poop and, far more seriously, sometimes leaves dead animals in its profit-seeking wake.

"Our commitment to creative and innovative programming is matched only by our steadfast commitment to honesty and integrity in everything we do." - Animal Planet's parent company, Discovery Communications, in response to the abuse allegations.

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