"Under Wild Skies," which last week featured host (and NRA lobbyist) Tony Makris shooting an elephant in the face and celebrating with champagne, has been canceled by NBC Sports.
The bizarre and macabre series, sponsored by the National Rifle Association, featured "excursions across Africa's most dangerous and notorious regions in search of big game hunting and trophies." The show has been around since 2011, but came to the attention of the wider Web last week after Makris' most-recent cruel elephant hunt. A recap via Death and Taxes:
Makris and his guide hide in the bush, 20 feet away from the unsuspecting elephant. “Four inches above the eyes,” explains Makris — that’s where you want to shoot. After shooting the elephant right in the face — but not killing it — the animal runs for its life. Makris laughs as they run after it and finish the job, shooting it to death. “Somebody got a little cheeky there,” he chuckles.
If you're wondering how in the world NBC would ever air such a show, it turns out the network was thinking the same thing. In a statement regarding the episode, reps admitted someone screwed up in the standards department.
"We've listened to our viewers and will not air that particular episode of 'Under Wild Skies' again," NBC Sports said in a statement. "We're also taking a close look at our internal standards as part of this process because this content should not have aired. While this form of hunting is legal, we understand that many viewers find it objectionable. As a result we are taking an aggressive approach towards objectionable content within future episodes of 'Under Wild Skies' and other series."
That aggressive approach led to the cancelation of "Under Wild Skies" after Makris lashed out at critics during a Sept. 26 airing of the "NRA News," accusing them of "animal racism."
"And now they're shocked. And they said, 'But [elephants are] so big and special and they're smarter.' And I went, 'You know, Hitler would have said the same thing,'" said Makris in an exchange reported by MediaMatters.org
"'Under Wild Skies' will no longer air on NBC Sports Sports Network due to the program's close association with its host, whose recent comments comparing his critics to Hitler are outrageous and unacceptable. NBCSN will continue to air all of our other quality outdoor programming," an NBC Sports spokesman told Deadline
"As close to 40,000 PETA supporters pointed out in e-mails to NBC, viewers today don't want to see gun lobbyists having fun shooting elephants in the face. Like all animals, the elephants, rhinos, leopards, and other animals targeted on 'Under Wild Skies' deserve respect and to be left in peace — not to be killed for a disgusting trophy or a television show. PETA praises NBC for making the right call and for canceling this vile, cruel, tasteless, National Rifle Association–sponsored program altogether."
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