Since its rebrand just two years ago, Animal Planet has transformed into a more powerful, competitive entertainment destination with hit shows featuring people’s complex relationships with the animal world. This upfront season, the Planet announces 300 hours of original programming including more than 100 hours of new shows along with a slew of returning series that earned both critical and viewer acclaim, all underscoring the evolution of the Animal Planet brand and its new tagline, “Surprisingly Human.”
“There is no human world separate from the animal world,” says president and general manager Marjorie Kaplan. “We all inhabit one large, living planet, and the stories we can tell at the margins where humans’ and animals’ lives intersect make for terrific entertainment.” This year’s line-up further cements the Planet’s ownership of the pets’ category, features landmark natural history series and specials, and expands its bold roster of surprisingly human character-based series.
Nothing could be more surprising than TAKING ON TYSON, a show that returns former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson to the roof tops of Brooklyn and to sports. This time, he’s the underdog as he enters the competitive world of pigeon racing. Pigeons have been Tyson’s great passion since childhood; he loves them but he’s never raced them before. TAKING ON TYSON will explore a fascinating subculture and reveal this complex man as never seen before.
What if you’re not as crazy about birds as Mike? What if you have rodents in your rec room? Or bats in your belfry? Introducing the SKUNK WHISPERER, aka Ned Bruha, the frazzled homeowner’s answer to furry – and not so furry – intruders…a hilarious, bayou-bred hero, Ned has a lofty goal – to humanely remove the most unwanted, invasive, creepy-crawly even slithering creatures that worm their way into homes. Who would have thought that critter eviction could be so wild and so fun?
The network’s big returning series, whether domestic or wild, tame or bold, reflects Animal Planet’s surprisingly human side. Fan-favorite show PIT BOSS, about a group of little people with big hearts, big mouths and big love for pit bulls, returns this summer. In the channel’s best-performing series ever, RIVER MONSTERS, extreme angler Jeremy Wade dives into another season, having hooked both female and male viewers and delivered an average of more than a million households per episode last year. And, ratings-winner WHALE WARS prepares to make an even bigger splash with its third drama-drenched season.
Riding the wave of WHALE WARS, Animal Planet continues to flex its muscle when it comes to conservation, spotlighting the lengths people go to help animals. Later this summer, Academy Award winning documentary THE COVE will make its cable television debut on Animal Planet. The film will be followed by a return to Taiji (“the Cove”) and other precarious waters in DOLPHIN WARRIORS (wt), featuring flipper-trainer-turned-activist Ric O’Barry and his son, Lincoln, in their determined efforts to save dolphins in peril at the hand of man.
No one walks that thin line between civilization and wildlife better than Animal Planet’s large predator expert Dave Salmoni in new series WORLD’S DEADLIEST TOWNS (wt). From India to Zambia, Dave finds paradise lost in the transitional danger zones at the beautiful but deadly ends of the Earth, where human life and the wild have lost their ever delicate balance. The channel also takes viewers deep INTO THE DRAGON’S LAIR through human eyes as world-renowned underwater cameraman Didier Noiret brings a fellow explorer with him in his quest to do what no one has before – follow the terrifying 19-foot Nile crocodile into its den to capture never-before- seen behaviors of this venerable apex predator. Of course, Animal Planet will continue to deliver on its legacy of spectacular natural-history storytelling with a new season of MUTUAL OF OMAHA’S WILD KINGDOM and breathtaking specials including WILD AMAZON, VIKING WILDERNESS and an unprecedented journey to the island of MADAGASCAR.
It wouldn’t be Animal Planet without the creatures we want in our homes. Where some nets may showcase dominance training for dogs, Animal Planet simply dominates the whole pets’ space with the largest pet presence on the web, connections to 95% of all shelters in the United States and nearly 100 hours of returning and new series that take audiences from pet rescue to adoption to training. Returning shows run the gamut from the fascinating information in DOGS and CATS 101 to rich entertainment with remarkable characters like PIT BOSS’ Shorty Rossi, Victoria Stillwell in IT’S ME OR THE DOG and Tia Torres in PIT BULLS AND PAROLEES.
The network introduces more big characters in its new series LAST CHANCE HIGHWAY, produced by Al Roker Entertainment. Shelly Bookwalter and Kyle Peterson are two strong-willed, die-hard animal lovers who use a little known “underground railroad” to take hundreds of stray dogs that would otherwise be euthanized from the South to loving homes in the Northeast. And for the millions of cat lovers, MUST LOVE CATS premieres in 2011 with cat-obsessed host and musician John Fulton, whose road-tripping adventure brings viewers some of the most unique people, places and things the feline world has to offer.
There’s only one planet, and Animal Planet’s slate proves that it’s a fascinating place as the network features real, compelling, human stories made more intense, moving and entertaining because of the world we share with animals. Highlights of Animal Planet’s 2010-2011 upfront programs include the following debut series, returning series and specials:
NEW SERIES (in alphabetical order)
DOLPHIN WARRIORS (wt)
Dolphin activist and Academy Award winning filmmaker Ric O’Barry exposed the senseless massive dolphin slaughter in picturesque, remote Taiji – known now to the world as THE COVE. Now, Ric and his son, Lincoln – filmmaker and heir to the “family business” of activism – are back on the hunt to expose dolphin mistreatment all over the world in DOLPHIN WARRIORS. As a former trainer for the 1960s television series Flipper, Ric was a pioneer in the captive dolphin trade, a $2 billion market that spans the globe. In DOLPHIN WARRIORS, Ric and Lincoln are on a mission for redemption. Relentless in their efforts to help dolphins in peril at the hand of man, this father-son team vows no limits to the lengths they’ll go to save dolphins.
LAST CHANCE HIGHWAY
Shelly Bookwalter and Kyle Peterson have devoted themselves to saving the lives of thousands of dogs every year. As part of a network of volunteers stretching across the South, vivacious Shelly and big-hearted Kyle are at the center of a unique effort to find homes for thousands of stray pets. Shelly and other volunteers rescue abandoned dogs from the streets and local shelters and prepare them for adoption before Kyle and his team transports them in truck convoys to the Northeast. The thousand-mile journey is an exhausting ritual but one which finds homes for more than 100 dogs every week. Each episode will follow three dogs as they make the journey to their new homes and a new life with loving families.
MUST LOVE CATS
This road-tripping adventure series packs wild, wonderful and heartwarming encounters with the cat world into a journey to the center of the feline universe. From the weird to the wacky and from the curious and cuddly, cat-obsessed host and musician John Fulton sees as much of the feline world as possible, no matter where the path leads. From ancient to modern, massive to tiny, art museums to street corners, no cat will be overlooked in this scenic travelogue that takes a deep dive into some of the most unique people, places and things the feline world has to offer. From cats that saved their owners’ lives to swanky cat-only hotels, MUST LOVE CATS spans the realm of all things “cat,” offering a potpourri of fantastic feline stories, jam-packed with fascinating factoids and trivia bits.
TAKING ON TYSON
Former boxing great and heavyweight champion of the world, pop culture icon and now actor Mike Tyson is stepping back into the sports arena, this time as an underdog to master the intensely competitive and fascinating world of pigeon racing. TAKING ON TYSON heads for the rooftops of Brooklyn to introduce viewers to the unusual array of characters in New York’s pigeon circle who collect, breed and train these often maligned and misunderstood birds. Iron Mike is passionate about these creatures, their beauty, their soaring grace in flight and their big hearts. In TAKING ON TYSON, audiences get an inside look at pigeon rearing and racing as never seen before and at this man whose pigeons were his sanctuary in his childhood and now offer him an opportunity to come home again.
SKUNK WHISPERER (wt)
When the wild-animal world encroaches on your domestic bliss, critter specialist and animal-lover Ned Bruha is the man to call. Rodents in your rec room? Beavers desperate to dam your beautiful new fountain? Bats in your belfry? Ned, aka the SKUNK WHISPERER, is your guy – a special kind of expert who specializes in humane wildlife removal and property repair so that creatures as diverse, determined and destructive as raccoons, snakes, squirrels and bats can never invade again. A man’s home is his castle, and Ned understands the need for fortification against the unwelcome visitors that are only doing what comes naturally. SKUNK WHISPERER takes you inside Ned’s world as he responds to frantic calls from frazzled homeowners, extracts furry intruders and creates home-critter defenses. It’s SURVIVORMAN meets The Office, where dealing with the wildest nature has to offer is all in a day’s work.
WORLD’S DEADLIEST TOWNS (wt)
There’s a thin, tenuous line between primal nature and civilization, and in some far ends of the Earth, that line is nearly transparent. In this riveting, danger-loaded series, Animal Planet’s large-predator expert Dave Salmoni walks this line to explore the disappearing, delicate balance between the wild and human worlds. In WORLD’S DEADLIEST TOWNS, Dave explores three transitional danger zones. First to India, where he joins villagers battling elephants that have been driven to a stress point so extreme, they may be turning into man eaters. And, in India’s Sundarbans, a dense and unforgiving wilderness, Royal Bengal tigers have added man to their menu, killing a human nearly once a week. In Zambia, water is life, and villagers along the Zambezi River depend on this waterway for all of their needs. But to survive on the Zambezi means you must face the deadliest animal in Africa. In each of these magnificent but deadly places, Dave finds paradise lost as he explores the reasons why man and animal fight each other…to live.
DOGS 101/CATS 101
The most comprehensive and most endearing dog and cat encyclopedias on television are coming back for a third season! With more than 150 dog breeds, DOGS 101 will spotlight the lovable, the feisty and the unexpected. From the bull terrier to the saluki -this series chronicles a variety of breeds for their behavioral quirks, genetic history, most famous examples and wildest trivia. In the companion series, viewers discover everything they ever wanted to know about their feline friends in CATS 101. From the American bobtail to the snowshoe, this series highlights the frisky, spirited and contagiously cute behaviors that helped these sassy creatures overtake dogs as the most popular pet in America.
Tune in for 10 brand-new true tales of the paranormal as only Animal Planet can tell them. This season, THE HAUNTED sees an onslaught of fresh, unsettling stories of people and their animals haunted by bizarre paranormal forces. From a full-house exorcism, the transference of human spirits to living animals and horrifying ancestral apparitions, there is no limit to the bizarre nature of these real-life hauntings. Animals are known to be more attuned than humans to the paranormal; their sixth-sense instincts allow them to act as intermediaries between their owners and the supernatural spirits that plague them. Using first-hand accounts from pet owners, evidence from hauntings and opinions from paranormal investigation teams, THE HAUNTED sets out to solve more ghostly sightings, mysterious deaths and bizarre disappearances.
Without claws, venom or razor-sharp teeth, humans are no physical match for our wildlife counterparts. Given our natural disadvantages, a confrontation with an animal can easily turn deadly. However, there are times when no amount of size or power can overcome a much stronger opponent – a person’s will to live. I’M ALIVE features the inspirational stories of people who – regardless of the obstacles or consequences – are determined to survive an animal attack. Why do some people defy the odds and take their lives back?
I SHOULDN’T BE ALIVE
Re-live the unbelievably harrowing and life-changing ordeals of people who came face to face with death and miraculously found a way to survive. These accounts of ordinary people who survived unimaginable experiences will take you on an emotional journey as the survivors share their experience moment by moment through the moral dilemmas, chance events and desperate decisions that ultimately saved their life. What did it take to live to tell about it?
IT’S ME OR THE DOG
Victoria Stilwell is back for a new season of the hit series IT’S ME OR THE DOG to share her canine wisdom with American families at the end of their leashes. From skittish spaniels to disorderly dobermans, dog-trainer Victoria has seen them all in her more than 20 years of training. But what about the owners who might be just a little out of control themselves? And their friends, spouses or children forced to live with wild animals that should be domesticated pets? With homes in chaos and marriages in trouble, it’s not just the dogs that need help. This series follows Victoria as she tries to restore harmony in homes where the pets are running the show and the owners are along for the ride.
Discover the stories behind creatures that science refuses to recognize as Animal Planet takes viewers through an intense journey into terror to find out what goes bump in the night. This first-person, immersive series blurs the line between fact and fiction as it explores deadly encounters with mysterious beasts. From zombies and devil monkeys to the Loch Ness Monster, the new season of LOST TAPES questions plausible reality behind these renowned, mythical creatures. While their existence never has been proven, alleged sightings and encounters suggest that there are species that have managed to elude us. You’ve heard the legends, but LOST TAPES is where myth meets reality.
MONSTERS INSIDE ME
A trip to summer camp leaves one Boy Scout’s flesh under deadly assault; a scholar returns from an African research trip to discover a worm swimming in his eyeball; and a romantic fishing trip goes horribly wrong when an unexpected visitor invades a couple’s dinner. Family and friends are shocked and worried. Doctors are puzzled, racing to unlock the mysteries before it’s too late. What do all these cases have in common? The causes of these mysterious illnesses are not viruses or bacteria but stealthy, cunning creatures that have taken up residence in their unsuspecting hosts – parasites! Every story is a life-or-death battle between modern medicine and evolution as these patients fight off the MONSTERS INSIDE ME.
MUTUAL OF OMAHA’S WILD KINGDOM
The landmark wildlife series that debuted more than 40 years ago is back for a ninth season in stunning high definition on Animal Planet. A viewing tradition on Sundays at 7 PM, MUTUAL OF OMAHA’S WILD KINGDOM transports audiences to the far corners of the world to explore wild animals in their natural habitats. Experience the uncharted territory, along with the unpredictability and excitement of the animal kingdom in unprecedented, high-quality wildlife adventures and storytelling. Next season, cameras follow the wildest of creatures as they struggle to survive, and even thrive, in the most challenging of conditions.
This summer, the PIT BOSS is back! The hit series that introduced Shorty Rossi to viewers last winter returns with 14 new episodes. Rossi, an ex-con with a big heart, pit bull rescuer and owner of little person talent agency Shortywood, has newfound fame, and it’s flooding Shorty’s Rescue with new cases and creating even more chaos than usual for his staff and the numerous pit bulls that overcrowd their office. Shorty pushes himself to his physical limits and goes into work overdrive to find more work in Hollywood for his little-people clients and his pit bulls to help fund even more rescues. The PIT BOSS sets out to prove to the world that pit bulls are the most misunderstood and most unfairly maligned of all dogs – and has a whole lot of fun doing it.
PIT BULLS AND PAROLEES
Two hundred pit bulls; six convicted felons on parole; and 10 dusty acres in the middle of nowhere: Villalobos Rescue Center is the crossroad for a chance at redemption, rehabilitation and rebirth for both man and man’s best friend. And, at the center of it all is one extraordinary woman, Tia Maria Torres. Now in its second season, Tia and her cadre of parolees face a new set of challenges including pit bulls rescued from a dog-fighting ring, the pending trial of Tia’s husband, A.J., and the return of one parolee who went back to jail during Season One. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is Villabolos’ core mission: to rescue pit bulls from dangerous and abusive situations and find them new, loving homes.
Extreme angler and biologist Jeremy Wade is back on the hunt for legendary, flesh-eating freshwater fish in another season of Animal Planet’s best-performing series ever, RIVER MONSTERS. Wade’s international excursions into the dark side of the watery depths mixes action and adventure with incredible mysteries, edge-of-the-seat chases and a battle of wills between man and the nearly supernatural beasts that lurk in the world’s serpentine waterways. The new season brings Wade to some of the most scenic and feared locations on Earth in search of all-new, mysterious marine life. And, like all the best horror movies, the images are intense, immediate, gritty and real. From massive sawfish with three-foot snouts full of razor-sharp teeth in Australia to electric eels in Brazil capable of producing deadly volts of electricity, Jeremy continues on his epic hunt for the most dangerous fish on the planet.
Captain Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society return for a new adrenaline-fueled season of WHALE WARS, waging a life-and-death battle to find and stop Japanese ships from hunting whales in the name of research. A modern-day Ahab, Watson and his eclectic group of international staff and volunteers – labeled activists and heroes by some or eco-pirates by others – take a hard-line approach to eradicate whaling and alleged ocean-law violations. Highlighting the controversial whaling trade and the tactics that the Sea Shepherds deploys to attempt to cripple it, the series documents the group’s three-month expedition across icy Antarctic waters. WHALE WARS follows a masterful match at the far end of the globe as both Sea Shepherd and the Japanese whalers engage in an environmental showdown with millions of dollars at stake – all while drawing global attention to the practice of whaling. The team of oceanic crusaders sets out to risk it all to save the whales, even if that means not all crew members make it back to port.
INTO THE DRAGON’S LAIR
“Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.” Those are the words of world-renowned, under-water cameraman Didier Noiret who, with his protege Roger Horrocks, attempts to follow one of the planet’s most feared apex predators all the way into its den. The two adventurers test the limits of their own fears when they journey into the murky heart of Botswana’s Okovango delta to film the 19-foot-long Nile crocodile. To do this, they travel to a place no documented human has ever before entered: the underwater lair of these glorious and terrifying beasts. Their goal is to broaden the world’s scientific understanding of one of its most horrifyingly beautiful killers, capture never-before-seen behaviors and striking imagery in their natural habitat, and still manage to stay alive!
The island of Madagascar was isolated from the rest of the world for 65 million years. In splendid isolation, Madagascar became a hot bed of distinctive evolution, resulting in the greatest concentration of unique creatures anywhere on the planet. MADAGASCAR, a two-hour landmark special from the filmmakers who brought you PLANET EARTH and LIFE, reveals one of the world’s most important bio-diverse hotspots, an island full of exotic animals, strange plants and extraordinary life. From endearing and endangered aye-ayes to flying foxes and many species of lemurs and from 150 species of chameleons to 300-some species of frog, discover what made this island a mysterious Eden like no other.
Experience the greatest diversity of life on our planet in this two-hour special captured in high definition. WILD AMAZON journeys through the impenetrable jungle, mystical cloud forests and vast wetlands of Amazonian nature known as “green hell” to observe animals never captured before on film. Explore the largest rain forest on Earth with more than half of the world’s plant and animal species, and discover the most mesmerizing and captivating place on Earth.
At the northernmost reaches of the globe, a vast and ancient wilderness plays host to nature’s stunning wildlife. Home to a wide array of treacherous predators, the Nordic lands house some of the most adapted and skilled hunters on Earth as they compete for survival in one of nature’s most extreme polar climates. These predators – including brown bears, polar bears, tundra wolves and arctic wolves – all have prime roles in VIKING WILDERNESS, as they have ruled over the untamed beauty of the Nordic region since the dawn of the last ice age. From killer whales and Queensland sharks that stalk the icy waters for ringed seals, to Icelandic horses, musk ox and a host of bizarre birds, both predator and prey struggle to survive in a land of fire, ice and snow that is the dynamic and beautiful ecosystem of VIKING WILDERNESS!