Madison Area Herpetological Society

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Animal Planet/Discovery Network


1. Shift away from Science. The network has undergone a drastic re-launch involving significant changes to the network’s image and programming content. Once regarded as an educational, science and natural history based network, Discovery Communications is now “not looking to be a natural history channel, but rather an entertainment destination” according to the network’s president and General Manager Marjorie Kaplan.(1)

2. Straying Far from its Roots. According to Discovery’s own mission statement, the network claims it is world’s #1 nonfiction media company (2). It goes on to state “Discovery Communications is committed to supporting the extension of science, environmental and other educational programs in the U.S, and promoting the value of nonfiction content and documentary filmmaking across all genres.” (2). However, it airs a number of programs featuring Mermaids, werewolves, Mongolian death worms, the Chubracabra, escaped man eating anacondas in warehouses, and many other species which are extinct or not known to credible science.

3. Staged animal scenes and captures. Animal Planet and Discovery network have only recently been exposed for staging animal releases, scenes, and captures on several of its highly rated programs. One example is the highly publicized episode of “Call of the Wildman” featuring Ernie Brown Jr. where two Eastern Cottonmouths (Agkistrodon psicovorous piscivorous) underwent a staged capture in a public swimming pool in the city of Danville, KY.As it turns out, city officials of Danville launched an investigative probe into the filming, and concluded the filming was unauthorized according to City Manager Ron Scott (3).

4. Burned Bridges. Animal planet and Discovery Communications have severely undermined their credibility as a science and natural history based source of information. In the network’s special “Man Eating Super Snakes”, a highly speculative and fear mongering mocumentary consisting of zero evidence for hybridization of Burmese pythons and African rock pythons in the Florida Everglades, even their own witness Robert Reed of the U.S. Geologic Survey, stated and agreed afterwards that the network has “burned its bridges with the majority of the scientific and herpetological community”. (9).

5. Presenting Fiction as Fact and Misleading Viewers: Animal Planet and its umbrella company, Discovery Communications, have in recent years, produced several high profile “mocumentaries” featuring species that are widely known in science to be extinct or non-existent. Discovery Channel’s 2013 kick off to its widely known “Shark Week” featured another such documentary on the existence of Megalodon. Unfortunately, according to post show polls found that 79 percent of viewers believed Megalodon was still extant (4).

6. Ties to the Animal Rights Industry. Through Animal Planet’s R.O.A.R. program (Reach Out Act Respond), both H.S.U.S. (the Humane Society of the United States) and A.S.P.C.A. (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) are listed as Associate Partners. Both organizations oppose the sale and ownership of *all* reptiles and amphibians, and programs such as “Fatal Attractions” are a clear example of the underlying Animal Rights agenda. (5) (6).

7. Promoting Fear and Animal Abuse. Animal planet and Discovery have promoted and even glorified animal abuse, reckless handling practices, and promoting outright fear of misunderstandings of animals that it should be doing the opposite of as “the world’s #1 nonfiction media company committed to the extension of science, environmental and other educational programs in the U.S”. The network’s program “Rattlesnake Republic” featuring the abusive and ecologically destructive and unsustainable practice of “rattlesnake roundups” is one such example.

8. Breaking the Law. Animal Planet, Discovery, and associated production companies have also been accused of violating other laws as well including trespassing and property destruction. For instance, a Kentucky farmer and homeowner has accused AP of unlawfully trespassing, setting fires, unlawfully chopping down trees, and building otherwise unlawful and unpermitted structures (i.e. treehouses) for the production of reality TV shows such as Call of the Wildman. Animal Planet and its associated production companies are at the center of a subsequent lawsuit as a result. Similarly, AP has been accused of illegally constructing a treehouse for the AP series “Treehouse Masters” in the state of Oregon without a license. (7) (8).


Sources Cited

  1. 14 Jan 2008 “After Ratings Slip, Animal Planet Turns to Its Wilder Side”. Stelter, Brian. The New York Times
  2. Accessed 20 May 2016. About Discovery Communications, Inc. The Vault.,-inc/company-overview.aspx
  3. 11 June 2013 Danville, Boyle County Investigate Turtleman’s TV episode of snake in a pool. Lexington Herald Leader
  4. 7 August 2013 70% of People Still Believe Megalodon Exists After Watching Discovery Channel’s Fake Documentary Business Insider
  5. Accessed 20 May 2016. Hidden Enemy-HSUS-The Humane Society of the United States CornUtopia
  6. Accessed 20 May 2016. Associate Partners
  7. 2 Dec 2015 TV Host Accused of Illegal Treehouses. The Columbian
  8. 23 November 2015. This Lawsuit Says Animal Planet Is Doing Some Really Insane Things. MotherJones
  9. 18 June 2011. Personal Email Communication and Posted on Chris Cannarozzi, Mystic Reptiles,1920910