City Investigating Claims that Animal Planet Show Illegally Brought Bats Into Salon

Houston's Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care is investigating whether bats brought into a Montrose beauty salon in 2013 for the show Call of the Wildman violated a city ordinance.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals lodged the complaint after reading a Mother Jones expose about how the show allegedly mistreats animals filmed for some of its segments. In the story, Animal Planet and a company called Sharp Entertainment admit to bringing bats into a now-closed salon called Jazzy Girls, whose owner had previously complained of a bat infestation.

The companies claimed the bats "were placed in the salon for the purpose of filming, but they claim that it happened legally," according to the story.

Here's the kicker: "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." However, "Mother Jones has seen documents indicating that Sharp paid for bat remove service on two separate occasions" and both sources indicated that "one dead bat" was the same species as those brought in by the film crew.

The salon's owner, Velma Trayham, declined to be interviewed for the story. She also has not responded to our requests for comment, but we'll update if we hear back. (The strange thing is, Trayham was all about talking for a July 2013 Chron story on her alleged bat problem.)

BARC Spokesman Chris Newport shared his response to PETA, which states that the bureau is investigating whether sections of the city health code was violated, "as well as potential violations of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code and Texas Health and Safety Code. We have already contacted the appropriate counterparts at the State level to coordinate our investigation."

The Mother Jonesstory also alleges that a zebra provided by Franking Drive Thru Safari was sedated for use in another episode, which would have been a violation of federal regulations for animal exhibitors.

"Production sources told me that the zebra seemed woozy during filming; it could barely walk," the story states. The animal park's owner, Jason Clay, denied sedating the zebra.

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