Animal Activist Exploit Sun Bears at Bandung Zoo
There is an old saying a picture is worth a thousand words. Today we need to update that saying to "A Picture is Worth a Thousand Bucks"
Over the past few years, Wildlife Planet has gained a reputation of weeding out some of the fraud that has overwhelmed the animal activist community.
In June 2016 we were contacted and asked to investigate a GoFundMe fundraiser started by Rebecca Rodriguez.
To our utter shock (eye roll) we immediately saw this person was shopping a television show she created.
It is amazing that sooner rather than later in just about every animal activist fraud investigation we do, inevitably we come across the almost exact same sentence in that persons "about me" page.
In addition, Rebecca is the creator and producer of the upcoming television series "Animal House" and several other television series' for which she is actively seeking a network home.
In another investigation, we did in late 2016. Wildlife Planet exposed Dr. Dan Allen. In that investigation, we uncovered he too had a television pilot episode that he was hoping to get picked up by a cable network. Below is an excerpt from that story.
In 2014 Allen filmed an animal show pilot called "Animal House." I am sure he was trying extremely hard to get it picked up by one of a dozen USA or UK reality channels... it failed.
"Animal House" which describes itself "as a television show that will renovate or build animal shelters in struggling communities. It’s family-friendly, inspirational and in need of a network home."
Since these investigations were separated by over a year, we did not immediately make the connection that both shows had the same "Animal House" title.
Dr. Dan Allen - Synopsis of our 2016 investigation.
Desperate to get his pilot episode picked up by a network. Allen was searching for some way to become relevant on social media sites. When he read about a riff between a dog rescue organization and an animal activist Allen seized on this opportunity.
Aided by British actor Peter Egan, Allen attempted to tarnish the reputation of a legitimate dog rescue organization named "No To Dog Meat" ( NTDM ). Allen started accusing NTDM of pilfering donations from a Chinese Dog Rescuer named Mrs. Yang, who had gained notoriety from her actions in Yulin, China.
Allen and Egan enlisted Andrew Penman a hack reporter from the online magazine Mirror U.K. The three colluded to create a narrative claiming Egan and Allen were being harassed and threatened by NTDM founder Julia De Cadenet and her foundation's supporters.
With the Mirror's story published, Allen experienced an unprecedented rise in popularity. The sudden notoriety along with his inflated ego, Allen believed that he was well on his way to getting his "Animal House" series picked up.
After Wildlife Planet was asked to investigate the claims that NTDM was harassing Allen and Egan, things started to come unglued for Allen.
Our story not only showed that Egan and Allen were never subjected to any such harassment. We also exposed that Allen's motivation to ruin the reputation of De Cadenet and her NTDM foundation stemmed from Allen's desire for a network to pick up his television show.
To his credit, within weeks of the story's release, Dr. Allen saw the writing on the wall. Knowing we would never relent on exposing the truth, Allen announced he was done and was returning to the anonymity of his Otters.
In early 2017 The British Charity Commission came to the same conclusion our investigation did. The Charity Commission found That Julia De Cadenet and her No To Dog Meat Foundation innocent of any wrongdoing
The Commission also came to the conclusion that Egan and Allen with the help of Penman created the entire NTDM trolling narrative, stating that no harassment had ever existed.
In June of 2017, a Wildlife Planet website follower asked us to investigate Rodriquez. Having done multiple investigations it seems at some point, the quest to become an animal rescue celebrity becomes so overwhelming that they start believing that the "Ends Justify the Means"
While we missed it originally, It did not take us long to discover that not only were Dr. Allen's and Rodriquez's TV show named the same... they were in fact... The same show.
Television executives want to be assured of selling enough advertising to recoup any losses and in order to do this, you need to show that you have a large following.
Knowing their dreams of stardom depends on their popularity, these opportunists start seeking a situation that they could latch onto in hopes of using it as a springboard to fame.
When Allen dove into the deep-end of the dog-meat trade pool, the only animal activist experience he had, was dealing with Otters.
After Rodriguez watching a video posted by the Daily Mail, she saw an opportunity. After reading about the allegedly starving Sun Bears begging for food inside an Indonesian zoo. Rebecca Rodriguez, like Allen, wanted to advance her career within a subject that she had never even been remotely connected to.
A majority of the information contained in The Daily Mail article, including the Video is basically from a group called Scorpion.
Scorpion is a wildlife trade monitoring group. There have been reports of them using some questionable tactics when filming. Since we have never investigated them we can neither confirm or deny these reports.
Overall they seem legitimate but some consider them an extreme group. I have found their lack of context in certain films can lead to people drawing the wrong conclusion.
While the video that set this fund-raiser in motion seems frightful and horrific, it is also lacking context.
Many people, wrongly base their perception of what a bear should look like on the black or brown bear. Sun Bears do not look, nor act like any of the 8 bear species.
Compared to a Kodiak Brown Bear which can weigh over 1,000-pounds, the Sun Bears are extremely light, weighing anywhere from 110 to 150 pounds.
Sun Bears are also dwarfed by a Kodiak when standing on their hind legs, barely reaching 5-feet, while the Kodiak nearly doubles that.
The Sun Bears small frames are mainly due to the fact that unlike many bears, they spend a majority of their life living and sleeping in trees.
After watching the Daily Mail video, we agree that these bears are on the thin side. While at the time of this video they may not have been properly nourished, but they are far from the "Skeletons" they are made out to be in this story.
Many will see the bears long fingers and extended claws. This feature only adds to the "Skeleton" narrative. But while these bears fingers are thinner than normal the length and overall look is actually normal for a Sun Bear because it aids them in climbing trees.
Please Note: Having written multiple articles on the reprehensible conditions at many of Indonesia's zoos and on numerous occasions, we have called on these zoos to send the elephant's they are holding captive to sanctuaries that are located inside their country.
In no way are we saying these Sun Bears are being treated well? We are just pointing out the fact that the story may have been over-exaggerated.
Close the Zoo Down
While it's easy for Scorpion as well as other organizations to cry "Close this and all zoos down" the reality is far different.
Many people fail to ask the most important question. "What shall we do with the animals after we shutter the doors?" Wildlife Planet wrote a story on this exact situation in Argentina and the answer has not been good.
We do hope you take a moment to read "The Forgotten Animals of Eco Parque" (Opens in a new window). The story exposes the pitfalls of just closing a zoo down without a plan of action.
Latching onto this cause Rebecca Rodriguez went about starting a fund-raiser and in turn manipulated the facts to make her appear to be someone she is not.
By using special keywords or setting up various complimentary websites a person can make themselves appear to be an extremely qualified expert.
This, in turn, eases any trepidation a generous person may have had before donating money to a cause that they believe in.
In her 'About Me' page Rodriguez claims
Of course, this will lead people to believe that her show will soon be aired on one of the many animal-related television channels.
Unfortunately, reading further into Rebecca Rodriguez's bio, she states she is "seeking a home for her series on a television network."
If this is the case then her show is not 'upcoming' anywhere, except maybe her Youtube channel.
On Rodriguez's about me page, she also wrote "I am a long-time animal advocate and critically acclaimed independent filmmaker"
She goes on to proclaim herself as the lead advocate/consultant at One Animal World. The major problem is Ms. Rodriguez OWNS One Animal World.
With this fact exposed, her so-called title of "lead advocate/consultant" is nothing more than a self-proclaimed fallacy.
Ms. Rodriguez also details her extensive filmography credits. The titles she has listed starting in 2000 seems most impressive. Any reader would naturally believe these films must, in some way be connected to Animals, right?
All is Not What it Seems
Investigating further we have discovered her first two, short 35mm films, were filmed in just ONE WEEKEND.
IMDb labeled the first film, a 7-minute "comedy-short" film called "Soul Collectors".
Basically, the film centers around two men named Phil and Ed and their attempt to convince a confused woman that she had hit her head and died. Unable to make any headway as the dazed woman watched, one of the "collectors' pulled her lifeless body from behind a large boulder to prove she had indeed died.
The other film was called "Floater". That 7-minute "comedy-short" film is about a young couple about to have sex for the first time. When the girl goes to the bathroom to freshen up, she can't get the poop to flush because it's a "floater." The guy followers her and tries to pee the "Floater" down.
As you can see these two films have nothing to do with animal activism. But since most people will never actually investigate her films, she listed them as part of her credentials on this Animal activist fund-raiser.
Additionally, Rebecca Rodriguez claims that the films were produced and distributed by Lucky Head Films. Again this lends itself to the legitimacy of her credentials. That is until we exposed that like One Animal World, she owns Lucky Head Films as well.
Once our readers understand how easily it is to manipulate facts, Rebecca Rodriguez's impressive resume loses much of its luster. Instead of a resume she has written proof that she is willing to stretch the truth in order to illicit funds from donors
In our opinion, Ms. Rodriguez's carefully created resume shows less about her validity and more about her ethics and morals.
Using her resume and credentials as a filmmaker and animal advocate, Ms. Rodriguez built her Gofund Me Page. With a stated goal of raising $75,000, she is well on her way to achieving that number. To date, it has already raised over $52,000.
Ms. Rodriquez GoFundMe page states "I am assembling a team of animal experts to fly to Indonesia to advocate on behalf of these animals with the government agencies and zoo owners"
That sounds wonderful and combined with "I am a filmmaker" it makes this fundraiser sound even more believable.
We could never know what's truly in a person's heart. But, the moment we see someone crafting or manipulating their credentials to fit a narrative then we understandably become concerned that generous people will be taken advantage of.
What $75,000 will get you...
In her fundraiser, Rebecca Rodriguez scribed a very impressive list of things she would like to accomplish.
It all sounds so wonderful but just like every single "Rescue Fundraiser" the lack of planning and details is a prelude to disaster or a rip-off.
Rodriquez states "She is assembling a team of experts?"
There can't be that many "experts" in the field of Sun bears?
Rodriquez failed to list even one "Expert" so she didn't even bother asking one person "Would you join me on a fully funded expedition to Indonesia to evaluate these abused sun bears?." If she had, she would have been able to list these "Experts" names and their "Specialties."
Rodriquez states "We will be capturing video footage if possible."
Rodriquez states "Working to identify ways to inspire accountability and positive change."
Having nothing to do with this quest I can list a few without even thinking about it.
Ms. Rodriguez additionally wrote, "We are also working with a P Holmes who is the individual behind the Change.org and Care2 petitions aimed at raising awareness for the plight of these animals."
Ms. Rodriquez is working with this person who basically just starts petitions to close down zoos, but she doesn't even know his first name? Or did his mother actually name him "P"?
We didn't want to waste too much time on "P" after reading his catchphrase "We are the Spartacus for the voiceless" ~ P Holmes.
I am not even sure what the hell this even means?
I believe "P" believed it sounded cool and just went with it. But using Spartacus" in this context means nothing more than gibberish. I highly doubt "P" comprehends the meaning of why the revolting slaves, after the Roman legion captured them, defiantly said, "I'm Spartacus".
In our opinion
This fundraiser shows very little legitimacy.
If you have donated you should be proud that you cared enough to give your money to help out these innocent animals.
But if you have donated then we recommend that you contact your bank, credit card or PayPal and get your money returned.
Rebecca Rodriquez may very well be a caring person, who loves animals, but this fundraiser is, in our opinion, just another scam.
We would be honored to pen a supportive story that promotes her fundraiser, but in order to be taken seriously, Rebecca Rodriquez needs to show...
It is well past the time for animal lovers to start asking questions, instead of just opening your wallets every time a person shows us a picture or film that documents just how cruel man can be toward innocent animals.
We must be better and smarter than that if we truly want to help these poor creatures.
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We appreciate your help and hope to keep exposing those who want to profit off animals by taking advantage of good-hearted souls who only want to help the animals who have been exploited for far too long.
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