"Call of the Wildman" aired the third episode of the new season on Sunday night. Even viewers relatively new to the show could easily recognize that something was different; it was even different than last week's episode. It appears that recent efforts by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) may have resulted in changes on the popular Animal Planet Show. PETA has actually filed complaints against Ernie Brown, Jr., the Turtleman, alleging that animals are procured in advance and mistreated in the capture.
PETA has accused "Call of the Wildman" of being fake and describes the hand-capture techniques used by Turtleman as very dangerous or even fatal to the animals. You can read the article entitled, "Say it ain't so, Turtleman" cited below for more information. (PETA was interviewed by the Knoxville Celebrity Examiner.) Usually in hand-to-hand battle with some type of pesky critter before ten minutes of the show have passed, there was no battle at all this week. Nobody laid a hand on any animal except to hold a lost puppy.
The Turtleman was sick on this week’s episode, and he really did look and sound truly sick. He was under the iron-fisted care and supervision of “Turtlemom.” While the boss was sipping his mother’s secret remedy, a chicken soup that tastes like “pooty-poo,” the Turtle team, however, was on duty. Initially, Squirrel stayed behind to take care of the sick while Neal and Jake went out on a call for what appeared to be a black bear. At this point, the show began to feel like “Duck Dynasty” or even “The Andy Griffith Show.” It wasn’t a bad thing.
Neal and Jake constructed an elaborate, but silly bear trap. (It was one of those where the ball rolls and tips the paintbrush, etc…) After Squirrel joined them, they hid in a horse trailer and waited for the bear. They managed to catch the culprit, but it was a very small dog who escaped through the trap. They were determined to try to find his owner. Oddly the switch from an action show to slower, down-home humor actually worked well. The characters, not the 'live action,' are what people have loved from the beginning.
The episode ended with Turtleman laughing at the story and Squirrel coming down with the same sickness. The writers evidently had a big laugh this week, too. Suddenly, in the middle of this segment, the writers and produces’ tongue-in-cheek response to the extensive criticism from PETA and others became apparent. (Up until this point, there had been no response because doing so would constitute admitting the show is fake.)
The Turtle Team set a trap for what was clearly a black bear that was turning over trash cans and tipping over bird feeders. (There were even claw marks that indicated the presence of a bear.) Instead of catching an animal by hand as usual, they built the ridiculous and comical trap. And, they ended up cuddling a cute little puppy. The big question is whether Turtleman’s controversial critter captures will return next week or not. Has PETA changed the show forever?