[04/08/08 - 01:32 PM]
Animal Planet Soars Into 2008-2009 Season with Bold New Entertainment Slate
"We're breaking new ground with dramatic animal programming that takes risks and takes a stand," said Animal Planet's Marjorie Kaplan.

[via press release from Animal Planet]


-- On Hooves of Recent Rebrand, Network Announces Most Ambitious Series & Specials Roster Ever --

LOS ANGELES, Ca., April 08, 2008 � Animal Planet, the world's only entertainment brand that immerses viewers in the full range of life in the animal kingdom, unveils its most ambitious slate ever for the 2008-2009 season. The new Animal Planet, which relaunched with an "Entertainment Has a New Face" brand campaign in February, presents bold new entertainment-focused programming that taps into people's primal instincts with compelling stories, engaging characters and the innate drama of the natural world.

"We're breaking new ground with dramatic animal programming that takes risks and takes a stand," said Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet Media. "From docusoaps and unscripted dramas to fantasy and comedy to groundbreaking natural history, from the maternal instinct to the killer instinct, it's all here at the new Animal Planet."

The network's new lineup reinvents animal entertainment with gripping content that taps into the deepest instincts that drive us all�from survival and fear to pleasure, passion and love. Animal Planet promises to take viewers to a different world with immersive content both on-air and online that keeps you on the edge of your seat, a little scared, moved to tears or laughing out loud.

Animal Planet's fresh roster includes programs that tell dramatic stories with a strong point of view, such as the new miniseries WHALE WARS, which follows the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as it use radical methods to eradicate alleged illegal whaling operations, and a new season of ESCAPE TO CHIMP EDEN, in which chimp rescuer Eugene Cussons stops at nothing to pull the species from the brink of extinction. Also, Animal Planet builds on its successful strategy of relating to animals as characters, not merely as creatures to observe, with a new season of ORANGUTAN ISLAND. Last season, this new approach to natural history storytelling made a true impact on the lives of the orphaned orangutans of Borneo's Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Project featured in the series with viewers going online to adopt nearly 600 orangutans.

Passionate personalities prevail at the Planet. Apex-predator expert Dave Salmoni takes viewers on a first hand, intimate and heart-stopping experience with the royalty of the jungle in the groundbreaking series A YEAR WITH LIONS. Newcomer Brandon McMillan braves the NIGHT to share the wonder, glory and sheer terror of nocturnal nature and all its animal activities. Not to be outdone by humans, man's best friend and frisky felines take center stage in the encyclopedic new series DOGS! and CATS! as well as in the heartwarming makeover and adoption series STRAY TO HEY.

Continuing to break new ground in natural history storytelling, the network premieres the highly stylized series DARK DAYS IN MONKEY CITY, which uses live action and graphic novel-style animation to reveal the real-life drama of the gray langurs and toque macaques that are part of the Smithsonian Primate Project, the longest-running study of primates in the world, and the breathtaking, high-definition miniseries WILD RUSSIA, in which six high-definition camera teams filmed across 11 time zones in six diverse regions over several years to capture the biodiversity and wild spectacle of Russia.

Not merely earthbound, this coming season Animal Planet goes on a fantastic journey to a world where MERMAIDS could be real and also time travels 550 million years in ANIMAL ARMAGEDDON to bring to life (and death) Earth's major extinctions and the re-emergence of the tenacious life on this planet.

Highlights of Animal Planet's Upfront programs include the following new series, returning series and specials/stunts:

NEW SERIES (in alphabetical order)


Through a unique combination of live action and graphic novel-style animation, this new series descends upon the magical isle of Sri Lanka in the deserted city of Polonnaruwa, where large populations of gray langurs and toque macaques live on the streets. Once ruled by Buddhist and Hindu kings, the temple city is now home to a myriad of gangs and troops that fight to survive in this abandoned city where food is scarce and drama is plentiful. Revealing intense tales of love, treachery, betrayal and triumph, their stories are all part of the Smithsonian Primate Project, the longest-running study of primates in the world.

DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE: AnimalPlanet.com will be a digital sanctuary with original online-only stories, preserved in a downloadable graphic novel, as well as an online prequel to the monkeys' tales.


A YEAR WITH LIONS takes large predator expert Dave Salmoni to southern Africa to spend a year among the kings of the jungle. Having studied lions with unprecedented access for his previous special INTO THE LION'S DEN, Salmoni returns to Africa to literally live with a new pride, hoping to get a keener understanding of how these cats live, react to human encounter and maintain their status on top of the food chain. A YEAR WITH LIONS will take viewers along with Salmoni on a moving, firsthand, heart-stopping experience of the only social feline in the wild. Unlike other big cats such as the tiger, the jaguar or the leopard, lions live in social structures�the pride�and their lives are intricate, interwoven adventures. In his own voice, Salmoni leads viewers into the heart of the pride to witness each defining moment of the lion's life�from hunting, mating and birthing through defending its territory.

DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE: Dave will be sharing his experiences from Africa in real time with exclusive blogs and video diaries.

DOGS! CATS! (Fall 2008)

This 10-episode series is the most comprehensive dog and cat encyclopedia on television. With more than 200 dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, DOGS! will spotlight the adorable, the feisty and the unexpected. A wide-ranging rundown of everyone's favorite dog breeds from Airedale terrier to zuchon, this series will survey the top 50 breeds for their behavioral quirks, genetic history, most famous examples and wildest trivia. Learn which dog breeds are best for urban living and which ones are most family friendly. Using a mix of animal experts, pop culture footage and stylized dog photography, DOGS! will be an unprecedented look at man's best friend. In the companion series, viewers discover everything about their feline friends in CATS! This series highlights the frisky, feisty and contagiously cute behaviors that helped these cheeky creatures overtake dogs as the most popular pet in America. Learn about the various breeds, their genetic history, famous felines and quirky cat facts. CATS! will be an unparalleled look at the crazy world of these cuddly companions.

DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE: AnimalPlanet.com will relaunch one of the most popular corners of its site (Breed Selectors) in association with the series premiere with thumbnails, video vignettes and mobile functions.

JOCKEYS (Spring 2009)

Million-dollar purses, model girlfriends and trips to the mall to shop in the boys' department.� Animal Planet brings viewers into a world dominated by ferocious rivalries, fierce bonds and extraordinary risk, ruled by short men with silk shirts, oversized personalities and big dreams. Follow the fortunes of a group of jockeys and horses that live together in a "colony" over the course of a 30-day racing season. It's a month of go-for-broke drama as we see fisticuffs off the track and bone-breaking spills on the track as well as a deepening bond between riders and horses. Big winners who've won horse racing's richest purses live in the same bunkhouse with jockeys who never won a race and must place in each day's competitions if they're to make rent. The series showcases the day-to-day competition where five-foot-tall jockeys weighing 115 lbs. fly down the track on 1,500lb. thoroughbreds. Meet the superstar athletes whose livelihoods depend on their relationships with their horses�and whose success depends on knocking the competition out of the winner's circle.

NIGHT (Fall 2008)

Since the dawn of time, man has feared what happens when the lights go out. Tapping into our most primal fears, NIGHT takes viewers into the darkness to experience the wonder and terror of nocturnal nature and all its animal activities. From the shivers down our spines when coyotes howl to the involuntary jumps when snakes hiss, to the uncontrollable urge to run when confronted with bright yellow beady eyes, host and animal expert Brandon McMillan faces this and more as he embarks upon a shocking and sometimes terrifying journey into the depths of darkness. McMillan goes on a global search to capture rare activity that happens only at night in varying nocturnal environments including jungles, deserts, forests and frozen tundras in search of what it means to be nocturnal, where these creatures lurk and why they scare us to death.

DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE: Online experiences for the series include interactive navigation through virtual darkness putting users in the dark of night in an immersive jungle environment with ambient audio along with NIGHT-themed audio podcasts.

STRAY TO HEY (Winter 2009)

There's not much in this world more heartbreaking than looking into the sad, sweet, helpless eyes of an abandoned stray dog that hasn't been adopted from a shelter. The new series STRAY TO HEY takes that same stray shelter pup and turns its four-legged life completely around. Our very own Doggie Dream Team comes to the rescue when they snatch that dog from its formerly miserable existence and transplant it into its very own Cinderella fairy tale! Each stray will be rescued and rehabilitated, trained, primped, pampered and finally placed in a loving home that's been specifically designed and decorated to fit its personal doggie needs. STRAY TO HEY is taking the pet makeover to unbelievable new heights, going to the ultimate limits to help these down-on-their-luck pups hit the lottery with total life-changing makeovers from head to tail, complete with absolutely staggering before-and-afters in every episode!

DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE: The companion website to this series includes a pet makeover game, rating the makeovers, tips on turning viewers' dogs from STRAY TO HEY and photo submission galleries.

WHALE WARS (Fall 2008)

This new, thrilling and adrenaline-fueled miniseries follows the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an organization founded by former Greenpeace member Paul Watson, who uses unconventional and radical methods to eradicate alleged illegal whaling operations. Spotlighting both the controversial whaling trade and the tactics that Sea Shepherd and its staff and volunteers use to cripple it, the series documents the group's three-month sojourn across the icy Antarctic waters at the far end of the globe. The group fights to eradicate Japanese whaling operations on the high seas where law enforcement is minimal or nonexistent, often using contentious techniques, including ramming, disabling and/or sinking whaling ships, disrupting whale carcass processing and dispersing fleets of whaling vessels. With a strong journalistic lens, the series draws attention to this global conservation issue, which has several nations at odds over the practice of whaling in oceanic territories.



In the second season of ESCAPE TO CHIMP EDEN, chimp rescuer Eugene Cussons raises the stakes as he stops at nothing to pull the entire species from the brink of extinction, and he's prepared to airlift more threatened chimps out of their living hell. But, Eugene won't stop there�his ultimate goal is to find a new "Eden" in native chimp habitat�a location in the deep forest of Cabinda Province, Angola, where it's possible to set up a protected reserve as a natural wild homeland for rescued and fully rehabilitated chimps. In the first season of ESCAPE TO CHIMP EDEN, Eugene completed the first three �R's of his mission�rescue, relocate and rehabilitate. Now, in this new season, Eugene finally will approach the final R�returning the chimps to the wild.

GROOMER HAS IT (Spring 2009)

A fresh season of the reality competition series sniffs out America's most creative and hard working groomers and puts their drive to the test against each other for the supreme grooming title as they transform some of the scruffiest-looking dogs to look their doggie best! Three judges and the occasional celebrity guest judge put the groomers through their paces each week to see whose knowledge and skill can turn the shaggiest, most unstylish pooch into a fancy, prancing pup. While every dog has its day, at the end of the series, only one groomer has his or hers, is crowned Groomer of the Year and wins a cash prize and the tools needed to further his/her career!


The seventh season of Animal Planet's iconic series takes viewers to the far corners of the world to give them an up-close and personal look at the world's most interesting wild animals in their natural habitats. The pioneer in natural history documentaries, MUTUAL OF OMAHA'S WILD KINGDOM builds heart-pounding stories about the challenges faced by not only the animals filmed but the crews that film them.


ORANGUTAN ISLAND is back, and the two groups of 35 orphaned orangutans may have some major changes to life on the island in the remote locale of Borneo. Lone Droscher-Nielsen, project manager at Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, is faced with some tough choices about the next steps for these primates. With limited island sanctuaries, Lone has to decide if she should merge the two groups and move them to a larger island that is better able to sustain the group. If younger orangutans join the ranks, that will mean bigger food fights, more juvenile antics, new island discoveries and a chance for the older orangutans to nurture and teach the younger ones. The fragility of the orangutan species is also ongoing, and not just as a result of Indonesia's rapidly disappearing wilderness; some of the orangutans are fighting an unknown illness that could threaten their survival.

PETFINDER (Winter 2009)

In this corner�weighing in at a cool 120 pounds�is Mom, hell-bent on a teacup Yorkie. And in this corner is Dad, a svelte 160-pounder who is vying for a chocolate Lab and new best friend. Each won't give in to the other! It's a battle to the bitter end as both are looking for a little love outside of their marriage. Who's gonna win it? Animal Planet's PETFINDER returns and is tasked with finding the perfect pet for this battling couple. If it's a pig, pug or python, PETFINDER's resident animal experts have the chops to understand the essential elements in the co-mingling of animals and humans and knows what it takes to pet-proof a home in order to keep animals safe and integrate the two species with ease.



Welcome to Long Beach, Calif, where more than 2,400 dogs from around the country and the world have qualified to compete for the prestigious title of "Best in Show" in the AKC/EUKANUBA NATIONAL DOG CHAMPIONSHIPS. Animal Planet brings viewers in-depth competition coverage and behind-the-scenes features about the participants, owners and trainers as well as a look at the lighter side of dog shows. Tune in and watch as the American Kennel Club crowns America's next National Champion dog.


The planet has seen several major extinctions since the dawn of time, but what's next? In ANIMAL ARMAGEDDON, viewers get a look at how life has emerged and dissipated over millions of years. What's survived, and which animals have repopulated the planet after the destruction of so many others? Amazing CGI animation shows prehistoric Earth and its past inhabitants as we've never seen them before. ANIMAL ARMAGEDDON covers 550 million years with a look forward into our future.

DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE: Viewers will get a deep experience online with a CGI-based interactive game where users control the movements of animals in 3D as well as a "Sim-Earth"-type evolution timeline with extinction cycles.

MERMAIDS (Summer 2009)

What if mermaids are real? For as long as people have sailed upon the ocean, there have been tales of encounters with a mysterious aquatic creature that's half human and half sea creature. Historical seafaring cultures such as the Vikings, Greeks and Chinese independently describe sightings of a creature that appears like a woman from the waist up and a fish from the waist down. A new two-hour special MERMAIDS follows up on the success of Animal Planet's Emmy� Award-winning program DRAGONS: A FANTASY MADE REAL, and makes viewers believe in the possibility that mermaids could exist and that human life undersea is sustainable. Told through a blend of state-of-the-art CGI, stunning underwater footage and live-action drama, MERMAIDS brings to life this fabled creature in a way never before imagined.

PUPPY BOWL V (Winter 2009)

Puppy Bowl's all-star cast is ready to get "ruff" and tumble on the grand gridiron of Animal Planet Stadium. PUPPY BOWL V will be broadcast in high definition, capturing all of the thrilling action of our cute and cuddly pups in stunning clarity. From baby beagles to Labrador retrievers to mixed breeds�we've got a fantastic lineup that's itching to play in a winning combination of tackles and fumbles�puppy penalties and frolicking first downs. And that's not all. PUPPY BOWL V will feature some of the cutest kittens in a KITTY HALFTIME show that's sure to bring down the house!

DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE: Ardent fans can sign up and participate in our own fantasy league!

WILD RUSSIA (Summer 2009)

This breathtaking, high-definition natural history miniseries drops viewers into a vast and mysterious country that spans two continents. Six high-definition camera teams filmed across 11 time zones in six diverse regions over several years to capture the wild spectacle of Russia. From the Polar Sea in the north to the volcanic landscapes of Kamchatka in the east, this majestic series captures the story of some of the planet's most iconic animals in their natural habitats and celebrates the phenomenal biodiversity of this expansive terrain.

Animal Planet Media (APM), a multi-media business unit of Discovery Communications, is the world's only entertainment brand that immerses viewers in the full range of life in the animal kingdom with rich, deep content via multiple platforms and offers animal lovers and pet owners access to a centralized online, television and mobile community for immersive, engaging, high-quality entertainment, information and enrichment. APM consists of the Animal Planet television network, available in more than 94 million homes in the U.S.; online assets AnimalPlanet.com, the ultimate online destination for all things animal; the 24/7 broadband channel, Animal Planet Beyond; Petfinder.com, the #1 pet-related Web property globally that facilitates pet adoption; PetsIncredible, a major producer and distributor of pet-training videos and includes web service PetVideo.com; and other media platforms including a robust video-on-demand (VOD) service; mobile content; and merchandising extensions.

  [april 2008]  


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