Animal Planet’s top reality show "Call of the Wildman" is in hot water once again over allegations of animal mistreatment.
In January, Mother Jones published an investigation in which it found the show captured animals ahead of time and held them for days before releasing them into confined areas for the show’s star, Ernie “Wildman” Brown Jr., to seemingly rescue them.
The investigation found the show held animals in small cages and often refused to feed them prior to filming. Mother Jones also found the crew would occasionally drug large animals prior to filming in order to make it easier for Brown to catch them.
The show’s behind-the-scenes treatment of animals was so deceptively different than the pro-animal rights ethos depicted on screen that it led one anonymous crew member for the show to say, "My biggest issue with the show was that we portray it as: We rescue animals. In my opinion, the animals weren't under stress until we arrived."
Mother Jones published an update recently to its original investigation. The update gives a behind-the-scenes look at the show’s inhumane and illegal treatment of coyotes during filming for one of last season’s episodes. The update shows the tiny cage that a coyote was trapped and starved in for days prior to filming. Here’s the caged coyote:
It gets worse. The coyote was allegedly so weak by the time producers were ready to film Brown “rescuing” it that it didn’t put up any struggle once it was released onto the filming location. To catch the dramatic struggle they desired, producers shipped in a coyote from Ohio to Kentucky. This is completely illegal under Kentucky law.
Animal Planet denies many, but not all, of the findings of the Mother Jones investigation. Here’s an excerpt from their statement on the issue:
"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.”
For diehard Super Bowl fans, it is probably surprising to know that a Puppy Bowl has aired on the Animal Planet on the same day for nine years.
Mostly popular with kids and those who are more interested in fluffy puppies running across a carpeted field than large men tackling each other, the show has become a cultural phenomenon.
But now, it has some competition, as Hallmark Channel is starting its own Kitten Bowl.
It will run for three hours and be shown on February 2, 2014 at 12pm.
It is supposed to consist of tiny, meowing kittens running "basic obstacle courses of hurdles of varying heights, A-frame Alpine Scratchers, tunnels, hoop jumps and weave poles."
They will use laser pointers and toys to guide the kittens through the course, but will not use food.
Though real cat agility competitions usually have rules that state cats must complete a course in under 270 seconds, the Kitten Bowl does not have a time requirement. Instead, "any form of cuteness is key to the game."
Hallmark actors will be judges, referees and sideline trainers, while home viewers will vote for the "MVK," or Most Valuable Kitten.
Animal Planet knows about this new competition, but is not upset or surprised. Instead, they are happy that pet adoption is being promoted, as all cats featured on the show will be up for adoption.
"You've GOT to be kitten me!" Animal Planet said in a statement. "With the record-breaking success of Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl, our famous Kitty Half-Time Show and the huge viewership for our new live Kitten Cam, we're not surprised by a 'copy cat.' After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We're just happy that pet adoption is being promoted and more animals are finding their fur-ever homes."
In the Puppy Bowl, all animals come from shelters and rescue organizations and are available for adoption.
It works by dogs scoring touchdowns when they bring a toy over the goal line.
But it's not just the dogs that have viewers tuned in, as the show also features a Water Bowl Cam and a hamster-steered blimp.