Reality TV Show Star Accused Of Faking Snake Rescue


Reality show star Ernie Brooks Jr. — aka “Turtleman” — is getting shellshocked by accusations from officials in Danville, Ky., who are accusing him of faking a scene for his Animal Planet show by putting snakes into a city pool.

Brooks, a professional animal trapper and star of “Call Of The Wildman,” appeared in a recent episode supposedly risking his life to grab some poisonous cottonmouth snakes from the Danville-Boyle County public pool.

The episode aired June 2 and caught the eye of city officials, who were surprised to discover a poisonous snake had been in the pool without their knowledge. They also had no idea the show had filmed at the pool until the episode aired, WJTV-TV reported.

A subsequent report notes that the cottonmouth snakes that somehow appeared in the pool were actually brought to the pool area, accompanied by a medic, before being captured by Brown, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Animal Planet told WKYT-TV that the snake rescue was staged, but Jim Harrison, director of The Kentucky Reptile Zoo, said there is no way the cottonmouth snakes would have been in the pool in the first place.

“Cottonmouths are not found east of The Jackson Purchase, basically they’re in Western Kentucky,” Harrison told WKYT-TV, adding that the episode inspired numerous calls from locals worried about potential snake attacks.

“I told them ‘Well, those were staged, it’s TV,’ but they were still freaked out,” he said.

The Huffington Post reached out to Animal Planet about the alleged staged snake rescue, but calls were not returned. Freelance producer Karl Hollandt — who worked on the episode — answered multiple questions from the Lexington Herald-Leader about the pool scene with one answer: “All I can say is that Turtleman was called with a problem and he came out to help.”

After reviewing the report, city officials are trying to figure out how to proceed.

Mayor Bernie Hunstad suggested commissioners pursue legal action to prevent Animal Planet from continuing to air the episode, but Danville City Commissioner Paul Smiley pointed out the cable channel might use that as a way to get more people to watch, reported.

Turtleman isn’t the only person coming under fire in this snaky reality show scandal.

Danville tourism official Jennifer Kirchner was forced to apologize after she said during a public meeting that Brooks isn’t a good representative of the community because “promoting people that don’t have teeth — this is not the image that we want to go for.”