Donald Schultz, Ex-Animal Planet Host, Sentenced for Sale of Rare Lizards

Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 04:44 PM

By Ken Mandel

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A federal judge sentenced ex-Animal Planet host Donald Schultz to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service Monday after he admitted to trying to sell two endangered Iranian desert monitor lizards with no permit.

Schultz, 35, the former host of "Wild Recon," was ordered to pay $9,000 in fines along with probation and community service, The Associated Press reported.

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Prosecutors said in court that undercover federal agents purchased the rare lizards from Schultz for $2,500, answering the show host's 2010 Facebook offer. The wildlife agents took him into custody after the purchase.

Schultz pleaded guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act.

Schultz told NBC 4 that the lizards were his pets, but he was getting ready to move and decided to sell them.

"Someone contacted me and asked to buy them from me," Schultz told the station. "In retrospect, it was a stupid thing to do. I had no idea it was against the law."

Reptile expert Jay Brewer of the Reptile Zoo in Fountain Valley, Calif., told NBC 4 that such rare animals can run anywhere from $500 to $25,000 dollars.

The news station reported that Schultz wrote on his Twitter account Tuesday, "My apologies to anyone I've disappointed. I intend to use this opportunity to do more, work harder & let my actions speak louder than my words." The message no long appears on the account.

The now-canceled "Wild Recon" premiered on Animal Planet in 2010 to mixed reviews.

"We learn assorted factoids that only a few of us are ever likely to use, like, 'The best place to grab a kangaroo is by the tail,'" Neil Genzlinger wrote for The New York Times in 2010. "What we don't learn is why Mr. Schultz and those like him on other dangerous-animal shows have such an aversion to taking obvious precautions. If you were trying to grab a venomous lace monitor, a type of lizard, wouldn't you put on gloves, or at least roll your shirt sleeves down?"

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