Update: Kentucky officials had previously warned Call of the Wildman's star that he was breaking the law. Read more
BATS IN THE HAIR SALON
Documents and sources also raise troubling questions about a segment shot at Jazzy Girls, a brightly painted storefront in Houston's fashionable Montrose neighborhood, in April last year. "A mysterious skittering sound in the storage room has been terrorizing the hairdressers," says the voiceover in "Bat Hair Day," which aired in early August. Turtleman is invited by the owner, Velma Trayham, a.k.a. "Coco the CEO," to "uncover the culprit before business goes belly-up." Then, Turtleman "discovers" a group of Mexican free-tailed bats.
Animal Planet and Sharp acknowledge that the bats were placed in the salon for the purpose of filming, but they claim that it happened legally. "Everyone involved in the production of Call of the Wildman is aware to follow all the laws, state and federal, and they know that they have to abide by them for every aspect of the production," Adler says.
Texas law allows people to remove bats from their homes or businesses, though Jonah Evans, a biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, told us that bringing a bat to a new location for entertainment purposes alone is not allowed.
In the weeks after the shooting, documents show, Animal Planet contracted a pest control company to remove dead bats from the salon. Sharp says only one dead bat was recovered, and that it was a different species than the bats they brought in. But Jamie and another individual with direct knowledge of the arrangement say that a pest control company was required at least twice, and Mother Jones has seen documents indicating that Sharp paid for bat removal service on two separate occasions; both sources say one dead bat was definitely the same species as the bats Turtleman chased. During the filming of the episode, Turtleman is shown sealing the gaps in the salon walls shut with tape so the bats can't escape during the "rescue." High slapstick ensues as he flounders to catch the animals with his bare hands and the staff obliges with screams. (Trayham declined to be interviewed. The salon has since closed.)
JAMES WEST Senior Producer, Mother Jones/Climate Desk
James West is senior producer for the Climate Desk and a contributing producer for Mother Jones. He wrote Beijing Blur (Penguin 2008), and produced award-winning TV in his native Australia. He's been to Kyrgyzstan, and also invited himself to Thanksgiving dinner after wrongly receiving invites for years from the mysterious Tran family. RSS | TWITTER