In a shocking twist, Animal Planet is being sued for harming the two very things covered in its name: animals and the planet. The lawsuit against the network is for its reality show Call of the Wildman starring Kentucky wildlife rescuer Ernie Brown Jr., better known as “Turtleman.” This isn’t the first time the show’s been accused of bad behavior. In the past Mother Jones reported that animals had been mistreated in order to stage scenes for the show, such as drugging an “endangered” zebra and “trapping a sick coyote.” The lawsuit alleges that during the show’s production of an episode Turtleman and other cast members illegally trespassed, cut down trees and dammed up a creek on private property, in addition to setting a tree house on fire.
The allegations named in the lawsuit against Turtleman, cast members, and producers, are in regards to an episode filmed summer 2014 called “Call in the Cavalry.” In the episode Turtleman and company built a tree house using materials from the woods, including lumber. They acquired the materials from a 49-acre property in Liberty, Kentucky belonging to J.D. Long, a landscaper and nurseryman who filed the suit. According to Long, producers went onto his property, where Long’s sister lives, despite her telling them they couldn’t be there. In the lawsuit Long says 75 percent of the lumber used to build the tree house came from trees on his land. To make matters worse, the house was built on his land, too. Turtleman and his crew also chipped rock from a waterfall Long says is on his property in order to make concrete to dam a creek of his.
The lawsuit also states that the tree house was torn down by a crane, which Long said, “sounded like the whole neighborhood was going to blow up,” and burned on a night around November 20, 2014. “I mean, they could have set the whole mountain on fire, that’s what got me,” Long said. “I was really aggravated.”
This March Long filed the lawsuit against Animal Planet, Discovery Communications which owns it, as well as the show’s production company Sharp Entertainment, and his neighbor who was also involved in the allegations. A trial date has not been set.