Former Animal Planet host to plead guilty to selling exotic lizards

A former Animal Planet reptile expert is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to a federal charge that he illegally sold two endangered Iranian desert monitor lizards.

Donald Schultz faces a sentence of two years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $6,000 fine, according to a plea agreement filed last week.

The Inglewood-based herpetologist, who tracked down unusual creatures as host of the Animal Planet TV series “Wild Recon,” also agreed to give up the lizards to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and to pay $3,000 restitution for their cost and care, the plea agreement said.

He was scheduled to appear before a magistrate judge in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, according to a U.S. attorney’s office spokesman.


Schultz had been a licensed wildlife importer starting in May 2006, but his license expired in January 2010, according to an affidavit in support of charges filed earlier this year. 

The document said that in July 2010, Schultz sold two of the endangered animals to an undercover federal wildlife agent. 

On his show, Schultz has described the creatures, which carry the same level of protection as pandas, as the “Holy Grail” among lizards.

Schultz had offered up a “collection” of reptiles on Facebook, according to the document.


About a month later, the affidavit said, another agent recorded a phone call with Schultz, who had asked to film at the wildlife agency’s Torrance office for a Discovery Channel program.

That agent asked Schultz if he “understood that agents deal with the Endangered Species Act,” according to the affidavit.

“Absolutely,” it says he replied.


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Twitter: @jillcowan

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