Influencer Harasses Animals at Illegal Roadside Zoo for Content

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Run by a social media influencer known as “The Real Tarzann,” The Wyld Jungle—an unlicensed roadside zoo in Temecula, California—appears to be nothing more than a nefarious, clout-driven scheme aimed at harassing animals for viral content.

In many videos, Holston is seen repeatedly provoking animals like the lizard pictured above.

The seedy operation is currently exhibiting animals—including zebras, camels, ostriches, a water buffalo, a Brahman bull, a greater rhea, emus, and others—and offering dangerous direct encounters with wildlife without a federal exhibitor’s license.

According to Holston, at least four employees have been injured by ostriches at The Wyld Jungle, including the facility’s security guard, who became cornered in an enclosure and was nearly hospitalized after an ostrich kicked him and sliced through his pants. Several employees were reportedly left with bruises after being bitten by an alpaca. If federal officials don’t act now, it’s only a matter of time before members of the public are injured at the roadside zoo.

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The Partners in Crime Behind This Cesspool of Suffering

The chief of the scummy operation, Michael Holston (aka “The Real Tarzann”), has admitted that he has no meaningful experience working with the regulated species he exhibits at The Wyld Jungle—he’s even asked his followers how to handle certain situations—but he does have a history of violating state wildlife laws and ties to the notorious Tiger King villain Bhagavan “Doc” Antle.

In a depraved attempt to boost his platform, Holston uses animals as props for content, regularly provoking them and engaging them in reckless, hazardous stunts. He often purposefully prompts the animals to respond aggressively, putting himself, his employees, the public, and the animals at risk.

man grabbing a lizard
In one video posted to Holston’s Instagram, he is seen grabbing a reptile’s tongue in front of visitors.

In 2018, Holston was charged with nearly a dozen violations of Florida’s wildlife laws for unlawful possession, sale, and transport of animals. One year later, he was arrested and charged with assaulting two individuals from the Zoological Wildlife Foundation, who were picking up a lion from a compound owned by “Doc” Antle in Miami—where Holston was living at the time. While all these charges were eventually dropped as part of a pre-trial diversion program, Holston’s history of violating state wildlife law makes him ineligible to hold a federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) exhibitor’s license.

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In 2022, Holston partnered with Dan Fleyshman, a social media investor, to build The Wyld Jungle on Fleyshman’s 26-acre ranch in Temecula. The roadside zoo has been operating in violation of Riverside County’s zoning laws.

PETA Urges Officials to Act Now

PETA has previously submitted two complaints to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reporting The Wyld Jungle’s apparent unlawful activity, yet Holston and Fleyshman continue to exhibit animals without a license. Now, we’re sending another complaint to the USDA, strongly urging the agency to intervene and hold Holston accountable.

Here’s How You Can Help Animals Suffering at Roadside Zoos Like The Wyld Jungle

The Wyld Jungle is just one of many roadside hellholes that profit from the exploitation of living, feeling animals. Animals trapped at roadside zoos often languish in small enclosures, where they pace back and forth from psychological distress. As a result of their miserable confinement, animals can become aggressive, causing them to injure themselves, other animals, employees, or visitors. Please stay far away from roadside zoos and other cruel exhibits:

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