Unfortunate news today for those of us who enjoy binge-watching episodes of Too Cute!: Animal Planet, the channel we rely on to deliver images of animals we can stare at and say, “Aw, I want one,” while our cat stares balefully in our direction, is being sued. Mother Jones reports the channel is being named in a lawsuit filed by a Kentucky resident alleging unlawful actions performed in the name of one of their more unpleasant reality shows.
To be fair, the main culprit here seems to be the cast and crew of the channel’s series Call Of The Wildman, about the so-called “real life” adventures of a Kentucky wildlife rescuer nicknamed “Turtleman” and his cohorts. Like the vast majority of reality shows, this premise mostly sounds like a bunch of crap some guys made up to sell a TV series. In this case, the lawsuit by a Kentucky farmer accuses the production of “setting a fire, damming a creek, chopping down trees, and illegally trespassing and building structures on his property” for filming purposes. Turtleman, a.k.a Ernie Brown Jr., spends the 2014 episode “Call In The Cavalry” building a large and extensive tree house, using materials supposedly gathered from the surrounding environment. “Everything we’re going to get is going to come from the backwoods,” he announces in the aired version, allegedly a euphemism for illegally raiding someone’s property.
To be even fairer, however, it sounds like Animal Planet is being a real dick about this whole thing. After all, the series has already been called out repeatedly for other abuses—specifically, to animals, the ostensible heroes of the channel. Mother Jones found evidence of repeated animal mistreatment for elaborate (and faked) scenes of trapping a sick coyote and drugging an endangered zebra, among other asshole behaviors. Despite ongoing state and federal investigations, the channel has continued to deny any wrongdoing on the part of the show, and keeps airing the exploits of Turtleman, which, to remind readers, is the nickname of some douche in Kentucky, and not a hot new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan-fiction site.
For his part, Kentucky’s zebra-drugging-est wildlife “rescuer” is hoping the production company that makes the show is going to take the financial hit, and not him. “People think I have a million dollars,” he said back in March. “I got the famous part, but I haven’t got the rich part figured out yet. I’m the poorest famous guy around. I only made $50,000 last year, and that’s before taxes.” Along with a bold new interpretation of the word “famous,” it seems Turtleman needs to spend a little more time harvesting good advice on signing backwoods business contracts.