[04/04/13 - 09:33 AM]
Animal Planet's Best Year Ever Propels Network Toward Its Wildest Entertainment Slate
The cable channel's 14 returning series include "Call of the Wildman," "Finding Bigfoot," "Gator Boys" and "Monsters Inside Me."

[via press release from Animal Planet]

Animal Planet's Best Year Ever Propels Network Toward Its Wildest Entertainment Slate

-- The Planet Roars About its Upfront 2013-14 Surprisingly Human Line-up --

(New York, N.Y.) Animal Planet heads into this Upfront coming on the heels of a breakthrough year in 2012 with both prime and total day showing record gains among adults, women and men for whom the channel is now a top-20 cable network. With 20 returning series and lots of big, new, brand-defining content, the network already is posting double-digit gains versus a year ago and is poised for another record-breaking year in 2013.

"Animal Planet comes into the Upfront with the strongest slate in our history with a terrific roster of new and returning series and specials," says Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet. "We all want to feel wild from time to time. Our surprisingly human characters and the rich stories to be told at the intersection of human and wild strike a nerve and make for big entertainment."

Larger-than-life but very real characters are at the center of Animal Planet's big returning hit series for the Upfront season. From WHALE WARS to GATOR BOYS and from PITBULLS AND PAROLEES to CALL OF THE WILDMAN,our stand-up personalities are prepared to go to any lengths for creatures wild or tame. They're not afraid to get down and dirty doing what they believe and what they love.

The real-life characters that live at the intersection of humans and animals are hugely entertaining, whether they're tracking massive Sasquatch footprints in every one of the continental United States and now around the world in the returning hit show FINDING BIGFOOT or seeking out something smaller - rather, minuscule - in new series EEL OF FORTUNE (wt). New England fishermen are in fierce competition to find elver eels, which sell for $2,600 per pound. Though these eels may be tiny, they're a big deal in Maine coming in as the second-leading industry behind lobstering. It's a tough trade, but these fishermen are focused on the big - little - prize. They must cope with a short fishing season, too little sleep and nightly hauls worth up to $40K; things get pretty crazy - and very entertaining.

Speaking of entertaining, meet Animal Planet's newest star. When he's not putting opponents in the Half Nelson, OFF THE HOOK's star, pro-wrestler Showtime Eric Young, moonlights as a fishing daredevil, scouring the nation to try his hand at the most unusual fishing techniques, ranging from wildly dangerous to all-out weird.

There's no question that living with the wild makes you feel alive, and that's even more true if you're really prepared to go deep within the Alaskan bush to sow your wild oats. The Brown Family of nine leaves conventional civilization behind to live off the grid alongside dangerous animals and amid one of the harshest climates. In the upcoming series, ALASKA BUSH FAMILY (wt), see why they wouldn't live life any other way. The Brown family is not the only one really going wild on Animal Planet; in CATCH AND RELEASE (wt), a group of thrill-seeking buddies and survivalists embarks on the ultimate adventure in which it is captured, blindfolded and released into some of the wildest places in the world. They have two missions: to survive and to make it back to civilization in one piece - all in the name of great fun.

The good news for those of us who aren't ready to move to the wilderness is you also can feel surprisingly human right in your own home - especially if you've got a great fish tank from the outrageous imaginations of the stars of returning hit series TANKED. And this spring, TREEHOUSE MASTERS introduces you to one of the world's renowned tree house designer/builders who proves that sky really isn't the limit. Awakening our inner child and bringing us closer to nature one tree house at a time, Pete Nelson builds amazing homes high in the trees.

Animal Planet's best-performing series ever, RIVER MONSTERS, returns Sunday, April 7th. Expert angler Jeremy Wade survives extraordinary adventures in the cooling pools of Chernobyl; in the new season, he's on a quest to find the Loch Ness Monster and more of the mysterious creatures that live in the hidden corners of our planet. Now, in another reinvention of the natural history genre, Animal Planet intrepidly takes viewers much deeper in UNDERWORLD (wt) to a subterranean universe where cave divers would give their lives to explore the dangerous and marvelous unknown world beneath our feet. While Animal Planet plunges into this underground abyss, the wild kingdom rises up and stares us down in our very own backyards with POLAR BEAR CROSSING (wt), featuring inhabitants of Churchill, Canada, where migrating magnificent yet deadly polar bears now outnumber humans by almost two to one.

Being overwhelmed by polar bears is terrifying, but who doesn't want to be swarmed by dozens of puppies? Animal Planet heads into its 10th annual PUPPY BOWL - that's 70 in dog years! On the heels of its best-ever PUPPY BOWL this past February, which doubled its ratings fetching 12.4 million viewers and chewed off the most Tweets on Super Bowl Sunday (second only to the big game itself), PUPPY BOWL X is going to be the biggest and cutest one yet. During this Upfront season, the network has even more to bark about with its new Arkansas-based show, CLIPPED!(wt), which features a specialized grooming salon that can transform domesticated pets into just about anything. Imaginations fly wild when Fido enters the shop as an ordinary dog and comes out looking like a bumblebee. If that's not cute enough, Animal Planet's most adorable series, TOO CUTE!, gives life to the all-new series ANIMAL BFFs (wt), which spotlights the adventures of nature's most unlikely best buds. And this time, the nation's naughtiest little dogs are in for a good lesson or two when MY CAT FROM HELL spawns MY TINY TERROR (wt).

Animal Planet is surprisingly human, but should we really be surprised that people tuned in longer to the network's live Kitten Cam than most TV shows? Viewers are drawn to the lively and unexpected interactions among animals, and now Animal Planet L!VE provides 24-7 digital content that extends the viewer's experiences beyond traditional television with unfiltered, round-the-clock access to all things pertaining to the animal kingdom. Any time they want, viewers can spy on their favorite animals and invite beluga whales, penguins, puppies, birds, tropical fish and more into their living rooms at APL.TV.

Animal Planet promises to be wildly entertaining with the following 2013-2014 Upfront programs:

NEW SERIES (in alphabetical order)


Deep in Alaska's wilderness, Billy and Ami Brown, along with their seven children, thrive by living off the grid alongside some of the world's most dangerous animals while they endure the harsh climate and challenging terrain. In ALASKA BUSH FAMILY (wt), viewers get an inside look at the Browns' unorthodox way of life and discover how they survive in such a remote and often life-threatening environment but wouldn't live any other way.


ANIMAL BFFs (wt) tells the irresistible stories of odd couples from the animal kingdom. They say opposites attract, and there's nothing cuter than the moment when friends from different species meet for the first time. Each tale begins with the story of how these creatures met and follows them on a journey that reveals surprising truths about their unusual friendships. Whether these fuzzy pals are taking their first trips across the yard or conspiring to steal food from the kitchen together, ANIMAL BFFs' tongue-in-cheek narration brings out the drama, comedy and occasional romantic connections that occur along the way.


Unprepared and left to fend for yourself, what would you do if you were captured, blindfolded and taken to a remote location? In CATCH AND RELEASE (wt), five of the world's most elite, thrill-seeking survivalists come together to do just that: playing a "game" that puts their skills to the ultimate test. Each survivalist has a different background: there's a Green Beret; a former Navy SEAL; two survival-school instructors; and a primitive-skills expert. Each is captured one at a time by the other four, is dropped in one of the world's harshest environments and has a maximum of 100 hours to find his way back to civilization, alive and unscathed, or he loses the game. It's man against nature (and his four best friends) as each action-packed, dramatic episode of CATCH AND RELEASE (wt) crisscrosses the globe - from dense jungles to frigid glaciers - to match wits in this game of survival. And with reputations and bragging rights on the line, do these guys have what it takes to survive the ultimate challenge?


Whether it's a lion, tiger or bear, no grooming design is too crazy for dog groomer extraordinaire Angela Kumpe. The Arkansas groomer specializes in outrageous transformations, and her "my-way-or-the-highway" attitude combined with her amazing skill has all of the South talking and her ornery employees squabbling. Kumpe lets her imagination run wild to fulfill the requests of her demanding clients who have very colorful imaginations. No request is too outrageous, but things can get crazy when Fido enters the shop as an ordinary dog and comes out looking like a bumblebee!


Animal Planet has found its next big catch. This time, it's the not the size that matters. This new series follows teams of New England fishermen as they search for the elusive elver eel, a lucrative fish that is a delicacy across many Asian countries. The price of elver eels, once at $50 per pound, has skyrocketed to an unprecedented $2,600 per pound with the industry earning more than $40 million during the 2012 season. Elver eels, which look almost like cellophane noodles, may be tiny, but they can bring a potential windfall to those few lucky fishermen who can obtain an eel-fishing permit in Maine. Now, the second leading industry in Maine behind lobstering, EEL OF FORTUNE (wt) captures the outrageous adrenaline rush and sleepless nights of the eelers who have a "golden ticket" as they embark on their daily journey to capture as many elver eels as they can. But the competition to catch these slippery fish is fierce. With only 400 men and women able to obtain a license, the most passionate and determined fishermen must fight against one another for the hottest fishing spots.


Animal Planet's ICE COLD GOLD spotlights a spirited team of miners who are among the first Americans to prospect for precious metals and gems in parts of Greenland where humans never have set foot before. The six-part series follows eight men who leave behind their families, friends and homeland to strike it rich against all odds while they struggle to survive against the harshest of conditions. Greenland's a veritable beast, but the motley crew of ICE COLD GOLD miners is up for the challenge. Each thinks he has what it takes to walk away with gold, rubies and sapphires before winter and large mining companies swoop in. What transpires as the miners cope with the unpredictable, harsh unknown? Are they humbled by their journey? Do their personalities get in the way? Most importantly, do they strike ICE COLD GOLD?


In MY TINY TERROR (wt), Animal Planet's small dog trainer travels the country and trains some of the naughtiest and tiniest dogs. While these teacup pups may look sweet, they're causing mayhem in their owners' homes. From incessant yapping at strangers to ankle bites that end with hospitalization, our expert has seen it all. He helps families on the verge of giving up these small nightmares and restores harmony to these homes.


It takes a special type of person to live with bears, and the townspeople of Churchill in Manitoba, Canada live with thousands of polar bears year round. In POLAR BEAR CROSSING (wt), the residents of Churchill have chosen to accept these unpredictable creatures as their aggressive neighbors, but their lives are shaped by the "tides" of the migrating bears. Knowing danger could be lurking around the corner, the residents of Churchill are outnumbered two to one by polar bears, so they've learned to co-exist with them by braving frequent attacks and living their lives.


TOP HOOKER is an in-your-face, full-throttle competition series that pits 10 expert fishermen against one another in a series of wild, never-before-seen fishing challenges. Unlikely competitors from a fearless harpoon gun-wielding woman to a South-African bodybuilder, the contestants struggle through countless off-the-hook challenges with the hope of being crowned TOP HOOKER and winning the $30,000 bounty! It's a nautical game of catch and release. Who can catch a spot in the next round - and who's going to be thrown back home?


Beginning May 31, TREEHOUSE MASTERS has viewers climbing to a majestic world up in the treetops with visionary and tree whisperer Pete Nelson as he designs private escapes for those with a passion to reconnect with nature and awaken their inner child. Designing multi-bedroom dream tree houses complete with functional plumbing and electricity to simple, one-room lofts, Pete goes out on a limb to create breathtaking realities for a host of clientele. However, creating these fantasy arboreal homes doesn't come easy. Pete and his team of designers and carpenters, including son Charlie, must endure Mother Nature's shifty antics, dangerous construction equipment and dizzy heights in order to build these sanctuaries. In addition to building these hideaways, Pete, along with his wife, Judy, and daughter, Emily, own and operate TreeHouse Point, a bed and breakfast in Washington, to where people can escape their modern-day realities. In TREEHOUSE MASTERS, Pete brings people closer to nature one tree at a time.


Expert cave diver Curt Bowen and his team of intrepid explorers are on a deadly quest to explore and find the answers to history's buried secrets that are submerged in underwater caves across the globe. But finding the answers could cost them their lives. The truth they seek is deep underground in a haunting, alien landscape few humans ever have seen. Traveling to the farthest corners of the globe and following a trail of evidence that leads them ever deeper into the silent, deadly world that lies below, Curt and his team risk it all beneath the Earth's surface. The beauty they encounter is matched only by the danger they must face as they journey into the UNDERWORLD (wt).



MONSTER WEEK is back this spring with all-new stories and exciting revelations that introduces Animal Planet viewers to legendary and frightening creatures. Giving behind-the-scene access to monster hunters and their hunts, MONSTER WEEK,a week-long adventure, digs deep into our fascination with the unknown. Not to be missed - check out RIVER MONSTERS' season finale as host Jeremy Wade looks for the legendary Loch Ness Monster, and tune in to the network premiere of MONSTER SQUID: THE GIANT IS REAL, a first-of-its-kind special that highlights the most ambitious search ever mounted to find the greatest mystery of the deep - the giant squid. Stay tuned for DEVOURED: MAN-EATING SUPER SNAKE RETURNS and MAN-EATING SUPER SQUID, and prepare for an apocalypse of creatures invading beaches, attacking boats and ambushing humans like never before. Can they be stopped, or is this beginning of a monster Armageddon?


PRIMATE PLANET introduces viewers to our extraordinary, colorful and fascinating extended family scattered across the globe. Primates are our closest relatives, yet we know so little about their peculiar lifestyles and behaviors. Getting up close and personal with black-eyed lemurs, patas monkeys and olive baboons in Africa; slow lorises, red-shanked doucs and orangutans in Asia; and titi monkeys, red uakaris and tufted capuchins in South America, this three-part series reveals the beauty and diversity among primates.


Animal Planet's pup-culture phenomenon PUPPY BOWL returns on Super Bowl Sunday(TM) with a very special all-star, all-adorable cast that's itching to play in a winning combination of terrier tackles, canine touchdowns, puppy penalties and Fido first downs. This year's big game marks the 10th Anniversary of the PUPPY BOWL franchise and features the cutest, furry puppy players to ever hit the grand gridiron. Iconic fan favorites including the water-bowl cam, Kitty Half-Time Show and @MeepTheBird return to the field to celebrate the biggest game in puppy athleticism.


In every corner of the Earth, weird and wonderful animals swarm together in massive congregations. SWARM CHASERS (wt) showcases some of the most extraordinary natural events on Earth, including one-and-a-half million bats that emerge nightly from their home beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, TX, and the 100- million crabs that turn Australia's Christmas Island red during their annual swarm. Scientist George McGavin sets out to learn what drives creatures to flock together. Taking viewers deep into some of nature's greatest mysteries, he uncovers the truth behind these huge gatherings by traveling the globe and surrounding himself with millions of animals at a time.


Twice the size of Texas, Alaska is America's largest state, but with a population of about one person per square mile, it is also home to America's largest wilderness frontier. In WILD ALASKA (wt), travel to this ancient and remote land where each day is a fight for survival for the animals and people who inhabit it. In the Arctic north, join the largest concentration of polar bears on the planet as they scavenge for food on land while they wait for the ocean to freeze and seals to arrive. On the southern coast, witness the uneasy relationships between grey wolves and brown bears, two of Alaska's top predators, as they fight for prime position before the annual salmon run. Visit Denali, an area located in the shadow of North America's tallest mountain, for a rare glance at the remarkable Arctic ground squirrel, the only mammal that can cool its temperature below zero and still survive. Learn about the people who call this remarkable wilderness home and their struggle living at the wilderness' doorstep. This is WILD ALASKA, an incomparable land like no other in the United States.



The search is on for AMERICA'S CUTEST CAT, and if you're kitty crazy, this show will certainly have you saying "awww." America's Cutest Cat highlights the extremely cute, hilarious and ridiculous antics of cats across the web-o-sphere in three episodes. The competition is fierce as these ferocious felines scratch their way to the top. The adorable series counts down the top-five videos in pre-determined categories, such as "Tuckered Tabbies" and "Cats and the Cradle." Trusty Animal Planet personalities and feline experts provide competition commentary to tackle the cuteness debate and crown a winner. They have on their game faces; find out which furry feline is crowned AMERICA'S CUTEST CAT.


Calling all puppy lovers, AMERICA'S CUTEST DOG is back on Animal Planet with some serious cuteness. There are thousands of videos of puppies on the Internet, but this series highlights the extremely cute and cuddly antics of puppies across the web-o-sphere in three episodes. The pups are gnawing on the biggest treat of them all: the prestigious title of AMERICA'S CUTEST DOG. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and this adorable series counts down the top-five videos in pre-determined categories, such as "Paw Pals" and "Pups at Play." With the help of Animal Planet personalities and experts providing competition commentary, the cuteness debate is tackled to determine which winner is crowned.


Live Action! Animal Planet's hit series CALL OF THE WILDMAN returns this summer for a second "snapperlicious" season with 20 brand-new episodes, featuring the bare-handed, backwoods, animal-trapping skills of "Turtleman" Ernie Brown, Jr. For the past three decades, Turtleman has been diving into Kentucky's murkiest ponds in search of feisty snapping turtles capable of biting through bone. Turtleman has the uncanny ability to catch monster-snapping turtles and other pesky critters with his bare hands and to return them into the wild unscathed. Now busier than ever, Turtleman and his crew of backwoods buddies, featuring banjo-toting Neal James, are back to protect Kentucky homes and businesses from new and even wilder varmints including coyotes, llamas, venomous snakes, pigeons, skunks, raccoons and even bulls! And with winter quickly approaching, a little cold weather isn't going to stop this turtle team from seeking out critters in new and exotic locations. Ernie and Neal are the ultimate out-of-water turtles, expanding their live-action repertoire across state lines to Texas and out of the country for their first international animal rescue. No job is too tough or dangerous for Turtleman, and his years of bonding with wild animals allow him to use his animal instincts to save them.


Animal Planet's hit series FINDING BIGFOOT returns with all-new episodes, investigating compelling evidence that may prove the existence of this elusive creature. The team uses unconventional methodologies and new technologies to lure the creature from behind the shadows to get physical video and/or audio evidence to prove that there is a community of these sasquatches among us! The intrepid cast of investigators - Bigfoot Field Research Organization (BFRO) president Matt Moneymaker, researchers James "Bobo" Fay and Cliff Barackman, and skeptical scientist Ranae Holland - has traveled across the U.S. and followed up on evidence and first-hand eyewitness accounts. Now, the cast continues its international searches and re-visits some of the "squatchier" locations to uncover startling evidence of the mysterious and highly intelligent enigma that has eluded capture for centuries and fascinated man for just as long.


GATOR BOYS follows the death-defying exploits of Paul Bedard and Jimmy Riffle, two extraordinary alligator trappers who risk injury and death to hand capture nuisance alligators that have invaded the backyards, swimming pools and businesses of Florida residents. Their ultimate goal is to take alligators out of harm's way before they are captured by trappers who kill the animals and sell them for their skins and meat. It takes serious skill to get face to face with these deadly creatures, and they do it all for the love of the alligators. Paul is known for his commanding personality and his ability to swim under water with minimal tools and to capture unsuspecting gators. Giving him the unmatched ability to handle nearly any dangerous reptile with ease, Jimmy has been wrestling alligators since he was 11 years old.


For some, monsters are fictional creatures that only live within the pages of storybooks; for others, they are the life-threatening parasites that hijack human bodies. MONSTERS INSIDE ME returns to Animal Planet to recount the harrowing dramas of people infected by deadly parasites as doctors and scientists try to unravel each case before it's too late. Lurking in the shadows of our bodies and showing no mercy, these monsters live among us. Explaining how each parasite finds its perfect host, Dan Riskin, zoologist and biologist, returns as the host of the series.


The Cat Daddy is back! Jackson Galaxy returns this April with 17 all-new episodes of MY CAT FROM HELL, which test his feline knowledge and may teach this seasoned cat man some new tricks. When it comes to fiery felines and their overwhelmed owners, anything is possible, and Galaxy is on a mission to help find the sources of conflict between humans and their furry friends. This season's gamut of calamitous cat cases includes felines that can't control their bladders, kitty turf wars, cat mood swings and a ferocious feline that does severe damage to its 95-year-old owner. Galaxy also tackles the human elements at the root of these problems including feuding roommates, enabling owners, overbearing cat parents and confused disciplinarians.


Follow Maine's elite game-warden service in an all-new season of NORTH WOODS LAW as it navigates the rugged and vast terrain of the Pine Tree State. For the wardens, each punch of the time clock is a ticket to extreme danger and drama as undercover stings and intense rescues are all in a day's work. Whether they're tracking and catching dangerous poachers, investigating mysterious crimes or attempting daring and dramatic rescues, these wardens risk life and limb to protect animals and to serve the people of Maine.


The ultimate fishing road-trip series featuring professional wrestler Showtime Eric Young continues! Young, an avid yet novice outdoorsman, gets out of the ring and turns in his tights for some tackle. He's on the adventure of a lifetime to hear, smell and taste big and small stories of those that got away. Using all sorts of unique bait, tackle, poles and transportation, Young is the makeshift MacGyver of fishing while he learns the best and most unique techniques as he crisscrosses the country to try his hand at various fishing practices, ranging from wildly dangerous to all-out weird! During his quest, he learns an interesting array of intricate and industrious methods used by some of America's fishing masterminds. Young embraces odd, local traditions practiced for decades and centuries, and no matter how long it takes, how crazy it seems or how many bumps and bruises he gets along the way, Young won't stop 'til he catches the ultimate fish. This season, he travels throughout and beyond the continental U.S., from Alaska and Hawaii to Maine, Minnesota and even Puerto Rico!


Returning for a fifth season, PIT BULLS AND PAROLEES follows Tia Maria Torres, renowned pit bull trainer and founder of Villalobos Rescue Center, as she unites pit bulls and parolees in a mission to rescue both from their troubled pasts. Last season, Tia faced her greatest challenge yet: rebuilding Villalobos after she moved the entire operation from California to New Orleans. With her family, trusted parolees and a crew of new Louisiana parolees by her side, Torres meets unexpected challenges including a deadly hurricane, but she's pulled out all the stops and has rescued more dogs than ever in an entirely new environment. Villalobos has found a new home, and no matter what struggles the team faces, the dedication to providing rescued pit bulls with safe and loving homes is unwavering.


There may come a time when the question of what really lurks below is answered, but that time isn't now. In the new season of RIVER MONSTERS, host, biologist and extreme angler Jeremy Wade takes the treacherous and mysterious to new heights with the most dangerous adventures of his lifetime. His journeys include a mission to Chernobyl's nuclear wastelands to search for a mutant fish in a race against time to avoid radiation exposure; a trip to Nicaragua to capture an elusive killer torpedo; and a bloodthirsty quest on American soil to pursue of a prehistoric, underwater vampire.


Wayde King and Brett Raymer, co-owners of ATM (Acrylic Tank Manufacturing), the leading aquarium builders in the world, continue to take on challenges that push the limits of their outrageous fish-tank designs. The duo is accustomed to creating and constructing over-the-top tanks for a wide variety of clients including A-list celebrities, athletes and high-profile hotels and restaurants. With a new 33,800-square-foot warehouse in Las Vegas, the guys have even more space to create bigger and crazier aquariums in new episodes that premiere this spring and summer.


TOO CUTE! returns to document the coming-of-age stories of curious kittens and precious puppies. Beginning with the tentative first steps of these adorable animals, TOO CUTE! follows these cuddly creatures on their adventures to a brand-new world where cuddly knows no bounds, and fluffy reigns supreme. These furry friends are simply too lovable, too curious and TOO CUTE!


In the new season of WILD WEST ALASKA, travel to the edge of civilization where bears outnumber people, life is basic and primitive and hunting for food, protection and survival is a necessity. At Wild West Guns, the state's largest and most successful gun shop, owner Jim West and his team build weapons for any occasion. The shop serves as the premiere stop for every Alaskan living off the grid. Whether it's for a request for an everyday hunting trip or for an excursion deep into the Alaskan bush, a steady stream of colorful characters is sure to walk through the door. But like Jim and his team say, "In Alaska, the odds are good when the goods are odd."

About Animal Planet

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 96 million homes in the US; online assets www.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; and other media platforms including a robust Video-on-Demand (VOD) service; mobile content; and merchandising extensions.

  [april 2013]  


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