We're used to reality families with a double-digit number of children. The Abrams family, though, boasts 84 children… 81 of whom are "fur babies." Welcome to TLC's new (and controversial) reality show Our Wild Life, an inside look at the Abrams family as they live and work on a 16-acre farm and zoo in Pinetops, NC, located about 70 miles east of Raleigh.
You see, Bobbi Jo and Jerry Abrams aren't just raising their three children, Kasi, Hali, and Jackson. They're also raising zebras, kangaroos, cockatoos, camels, llamas, wallabies, and other creatures. It all started when Bobbi Jo made her first animal rescue — and got the bug, so to speak. "We take in a lot of animals, lot of rescues, and of course we purchase some as well, but we got more rescues than the purchases," Jerry tells WITN.
Soon, the Abramses founded a business — called It's a Zoo Life — to host parties, events, and a zoo camp. And the fam is extraordinarily close to their menagerie, for better or for worse. Bobbi Jo carried Skipper the Kangaroo in her "pouch" for eight months, for example, and the family took Boomer the Wallaby on a recent beach vacation.
But the reality show, which debuted on May 22, is already sparking controversy. Some viewers are delighted — "I hope my future husband is prepared because I'm gonna be just like Bobbie Jo with all these animals," @JenL tweets — and others are horrified.
"#OurWildLife features such an incredibly irresponsible family and dangerous behavior, it has me livid," writes @liberal_parnell. "That woman is an animal hoarder, not a rescuer. She is exposing everyone and all the creatures in the home to communicable diseases. There is clearly no quarantine for new animals. She has a primate in the same room with pigs, reptiles, birds, and marsupials. She has other people in her [sic] who are all in danger of potential zoonotic diseases. Advocating wolf hybrids as 'safe pets' is simply irresponsible. Are all of these animals up to date on vaccines? Do they have licenses? Are all of the animals spayed and neutered? This program is promoting behavior that should be criminal and would be in other states."
The family is also in the crosshairs of PETA. "A human household is no place for dozens of animals who all have unique needs and temperaments and require expert care," Brittany Peet, PETA's Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement, tells GoodHousekeeping.com. "In the first episode alone, the family members allow a variety of species to roam loose around the home — where they could easily injure themselves or others — and even take a baby kangaroo into town for a trip to the grocery store."
The residents of Pinetops, NC, are probably accustomed to the Abrams' unique zoo, and now America is getting acquainted. Whether that means repercussions for the family and their fur babies, however, remains to be seen…