Wildlife TV star admits to selling rare lizards

Los Angeles - The former host of Animal Planet's Wild Recon cable TV show admitted on Tuesday that he sold two endangered Iranian desert monitor lizards without a permit.

Donald Schultz pleaded guilty in federal court in Los Angeles to violating the Endangered Species Act, the US attorney's office said.

This undated evidence photo shows a live desert monitor lizard. Credit: AP

As part of a plea deal, Schultz agreed to pay a $6 000 (about R60 000) fine and $3 000 restitution, as recommended by prosecutors, and to perform 200 hours of community service.

Schultz's lawyer, Ken Miller, said he didn't want to comment on the plea because the case is ongoing, but he wanted to clarify that the lizards were Schultz's personal pets, and they were “captive, born and bred in the United States.”

Schultz sold the rare lizards for $2 500 to an undercover federal wildlife agent who answered his 2010 offer on Facebook. Schultz shipped the animals to New York.

On his cable TV show, Schultz parachuted into remote locations to take biological samples from deadly snakes and other dangerous animals. - Sapa-AP