Since we don’t subscribe to cable, we rarely see Animal Planet. However, we have been under the impression that this channel promotes educational and factual information regarding the natural world. Recently, however, we watched a program called “Rattlesnake Republic” on Animal Planet while visiting friends.
The program portrayed several so-called snake handlers wrestling snakes in order to collect “nasty” rattlesnakes before they (the snakes) conquered the world. Or at least that’s what the illiterates on the show would like you to think.
Disturbed and thoroughly disgusted by the sensationalism portrayed on this program, we sent the following email to the president of Animal Planet, Marjorie Kaplan. Her contact information is below, should anyone feel moved to write to her, followed by our comments on her program:
We don’t subscribe to cable and consequently are not often able to watch “Animal Planet.” We had been under the impression that Animal Planet is an educational channel that teaches and promotes welfare and respect of all wildlife. After having the opportunity to see Rattlesnake Republic last Sunday while visiting friends, we were shocked and disgusted to witness the treatment of an important predator and member of the food chain and ecosystem.
As educators who promote respect for all wildlife, especially misunderstood creatures such as snakes, we take exception to the vilification and misrepresentation offered on that program. Camera tricks employed to portray rattlesnakes as aggressive, scary critters only serve to further myths and misconceptions harbored by many. And while possibly entertaining to the few thrill seekers who watch such shows, it serves neither as educational information nor as factual material.
Having been involved with reptiles (especially snakes), as well as working with a rattlesnake project in Colorado and using non-venomous snakes for educational programs for the past 20+ years, we feel that this program does nothing to further education, but merely glorifies the toothless hillbillies who mistreat an innocent animal.
We often visit schools and libraries with our snake program and are/were impressed by some of the knowledge children have acquired from your channel. This program, however, has done much to unravel the respect we encourage for an animal that has no interest in attacking humans and would much prefer being left alone.
“The continent’s most dangerous predator,” by the way, is NOT the rattlesnake. It’s the human race. We will never again recommend school children to watch Animal Planet.
Betty and Chuck Mulcahy
Volunteer Interpretive Naturalists