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Ex-Animal Planet Host Pleads Guilty to Illegally Selling Endangered Lizards

A former Animal Plant television host pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges related to having sold endangered lizards to an undercover federal agent.

monitor-lizard

A former TV reptile expert pleaded guilty to illegally selling two monitor lizards, one variety of which is pictured here. (Credit: cliff1066™/flickr via Creative Commons)

Donald Schultz, 35, of Playa Vista, appeared in federal court in Los Angeles Tuesday, pleading guilty to one count of violating the Endangered Species Act by offering to sell, and selling, two live desert monitor lizards in interstate commerce, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Schultz, a native South African who appears on television as an expert on dangerous wildlife, was the host of Animal Planet’s “Wild Recon,” which aired 10 episodes in 2010. On the show, he retrieved DNA samples of animals from remote locations.

In a plea agreement, Schultz had admitted to selling two live monitor lizards in 2010 to an undercover agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

He met with the agent at his home, agreeing to ship the two live lizards to Buffalo, N.Y., via plane, which he did, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Schultz did not have a permit to sell the lizards, which are listed as endangered under federal law.

He was a licensed wildlife importer from 2006 to 2010, when his license expired, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Schultz agreed to pay a fine of $6,000, restitution of $3,000 and perform 200 hours of community service.

On Tuesday, he tweeted a quote he attributed to actor Sophia Loren: “Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.”