It’s one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet, but venom expert Donald Schultz is willing to risk his own life to save those of others. Whether he’s harvesting venom from the fangs of deadly black mamba in Mozambique, collecting lethal jellyfish tentacles off the remote coasts of Australia, or bringing down a 270-kilogram lion to get a blood sample in South Africa, Schultz is fearless in the pursuit of bio-specimens for groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Premiering Monday, April 19 at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT, Animal Planet launches WILD RECON, a 10-part series featuring Schultz – a world adventurer, animal expert and adrenaline junkie willing to do a job no one else dares to do. Full of heart-pounding, risk-taking adventure in each episode, Schultz tears his way through thick jungle undergrowth and clings desperately to rock ledges during his worldwide mission to collect venom and rare DNA critical to cataloguing species and research that could one day save countless lives. Each mission brings him face-to-face with the deadliest creatures on Earth, and each location a series of challenges only he can overcome. It’s a race against the clock, but before he can deliver his precious cargo, Schultz will have to make it out alive!
Each episode of WILD RECON sends Schultz to an exotic locale where he faces some of Earth’s mightiest, deadliest and most fascinating creatures in their natural habitats. Hiking through thick jungle undergrowth, diving depths of almost a hundred metres to sample shark species or skydiving into hard-to-get-to habitats, Schultz stops at nothing to complete his mission. With an air of urgency, each task is a race against the clock to get his fragile samples out of the field and into the lab for the next stage of research. With his help, researchers hope to unlock the mysteries of animal DNA, identify the blueprint for undiscovered antivenin or even one day find a cure for a life-threatening disease. Schultz works closely with researchers at zoos, universities, laboratories, pharmaceutical companies and especially local governments and communities to assess their needs and identify the research critical to their ongoing studies.
“The work I do on WILD RECON is literally my life’s work – this is not a stunt; this is my job!” adds Schultz. “I’ve been going on these adventurous missions for years, and now the series spotlights the jeopardy that I enjoy in collecting these samples on behalf of the research community. I’ve dedicated my entire life to working with animals.”
While other children were out playing soccer, nine-year-old Donald Schultz was busy catching and handling the deadliest snakes on the planet. Born and raised in South Africa, Schultz was the youngest person ever to give venomous snake demonstrations at the world-famous Fitzsimons Snake Park. But catching, caring for and studying snakes was not enough. Now, Schultz travels the globe tracking down dangerous creatures, all in the name of science. He uses his animal acumen and taste for adrenaline for a greater cause, risking his own life for research that may one day save the lives of animals and humans.
Episode highlights from WILD RECON include:
WILD RECON: “Alien Invasion”
Monday, April 19 at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT
Animal adventurer Donald Schultz goes “Down Under” to Australia – home to some of the most venomous creatures on the planet. His mission is to find animals threatened with extinction by an unassuming toxic invader: the cane toad. He starts in the rugged bush, and when he finds his reptile targets, he takes venom and DNA samples from each one, in hopes of preserving these magnificent animals for future generations. Schultz then journeys to Southern Australia, where he tackles a thrashing emu that weighs as much as he does. His challenge is to avoid the flightless bird’s razor-sharp talons long enough to get a blood sample for researchers. Finally, when night falls, he heads into the deadly waters off Queensland for his most dangerous mission of all: to grab rare, venomous sea snakes from a moving boat…by hand.
WILD RECON: “Rampage”
Monday, April 26 at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT
Descending upon the Southeast Asian country of Sri Lanka in the aftermath of a brutal civil war – Schultz literally becomes the only civilian to skydive into the nation in two decades. Production of antivenin has taken a back seat in this war-torn country and as a result, more than 1,200 of its people are dying each year from snakebites. His mission is a dangerous but lifesaving one: capture three of Sri Lanka’s deadliest snakes – the spectacled cobra, the krait and the russell’s viper – and milk their venom so researchers can create antivenin. Schultz then treks into the lowland forest in search of one of his favourite animals – a slender loris – a tiny primate with a bizarre toxic defence. Before his Sri Lanka mission is complete, he joins forces with dozens of men to find and relocate a rampaging rogue elephant that’s terrorizing local villagers.
WILD RECON: “Bounty Hunter”
Monday, May 3 at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT
On this mission, Schultz travels to the exotic nation of Belize, nestled between Mexico and Guatemala on the Caribbean coast of Central America. He sets out on a dramatic search for deadly animals that are the targets of poachers, like crocodiles, sharks and rays. His goal is to collect blood and tissue samples needed for research before these endangered animals disappear. He heads into the dense rainforest canopy to track down the loudest animal in the world – the howler monkey – a critically endangered primate that’s falling prey to poachers. While there, Schultz stumbles on his least favourite creature – a tarantula spider that’s nearly as big as his hand. In an unusual “milking” procedure, he anesthetizes the spider and then uses a tiny electric shock to draw its rare and understudied venom.