PETA Calls for Investigation of Animal Planet Show for Violating Wildlife Laws

PETA Calls for Investigation of Animal Planet Show for Violating Wildlife Laws

For Immediate Release:
March 28, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Prospect, Ohio – In order to film a segment of the Animal Planet series Call of the Wildman, an ailing coyote was reportedly trapped in Bowling Green, Ky., confined to a tiny cage, and transported for filming before a replacement coyote was apparently exported—seemingly without the required permit—apparently from notorious Prospect-based Kokas Exotics for $500 and tormented on screen. Now, PETA has sent a formal complaint to the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) asking for an immediate investigation into possible violations of state laws.

“No animal should be harassed and potentially injured or killed for the sake of a TV show,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “By keeping this show on the air, the network might as well rebrand itself as ‘Cruelty-to-Animals Planet.'”

According to a new Mother Jones investigation, the original coyote—confined to a cage so small that the animal could barely move—was “weak and limping” and “sluggish and unresponsive” yet was transported to the filming location before the show contacted Kokas Exotics in Prospect. The coyote reportedly from Kokas Exotics was clearly distressed throughout the scene, in which the show’s star, Ernie Brown Jr., drags—and even lifts—the animal by the tail. These activities appear to have violated multiple wildlife-protection laws. Kokas Exotics operator Craig Kokas has repeatedly been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for violating the Animal Welfare Act, including by denying veterinary care to 19 chinchillas believed to be suffering from parasites. The facility has also been cited for unsafe enclosures that put humans and animals at risk. Kokas Exotics made headlines in 2011 after a kangaroo attacked the facility’s 80-year-old co-owner, knocking him to the ground and beating him for 15 minutes.

Call of the Wildman is already under investigation by the USDA, Texas officials, and the city of Houston, following complaints from PETA. PETA and nearly 65,000 of its members and supporters have called for the show’s cancellation—but Animal Planet has steadfastly refused to nix it.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind