Animal Planet Announces 2012-2013 Upfront Entertainment Slate

Animal Planet Announces 2012-2013 Upfront Entertainment Slate

This Upfront season, Animal Planet advances its richest slate of original programming to date. The Planet's bringing back 13 returning "Surprisingly Human" hit series and introducing a pack of new titles. Heading into the Upfront with strong momentum, Animal Planet has seen a nearly 25 percent ratings increase with both men and women driving gains.

"This year, we kindled a spark on New Year's Day with FINDING BIGFOOT, and now we're on fire," says Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet. "Our new slate reflects Animal Planet's emotional range and sense of purpose, delivering TV that impacts how we view and interact with the natural world around us."

Offering a wide variety of programming, Animal Planet delivers an ambitious Upfront slate of epic dramas, larger-than-life characters, extreme monster mysteries, an irresistible amount of cute and for the first time, a big, loud, competition reality show.

From the producers of DIRTY JOBS, TOP SHOT and other hit shows comes Animal Planet's new competition reality series, TOP HOOKER (wt). With animals at the center of the action, TOP HOOKER (wt) sets itself apart from the swan songs, final cuts and the out-of-fashion 'auf wiedersehens' of its network and cable TV counterparts. Ours has bite! For the first time ever, Animal Planet splits 10 expert fishers into two teams in an insane, full-throttle, eight-week fishing competition, stopping at remote, popular and jarringly different watering holes with 24, off-the-hook challenges for a chance to be crowned TOP HOOKER. Animal Planet throws down the gauntlet with exhilarating dares, enticing fishers to free dive for the perfect pearl and net Asian carp that fly through air. In a nautical game of catch and release, who catches the chance to proceed to the next round and who's off the hook?

If you're telling fish stories, at the top of the list is Animal Planet's best-performing series of all time and its most remarkable angler and freshwater detective. RIVER MONSTERS just returned for a fourth season as the most-watched season debut ever with 1.8 million viewers. In fact, monsters are now so big on Animal Planet, they're going to need a full week. MONSTER WEEK, in May, is a weeklong celebration and exploration of the most surprising and spectacular creature features, including nightly premieres of RIVER MONSTERS, new episodes of fan favorites FINDING BIGFOOT, CALL OF THE WILDMAN and GATOR BOYS, the introduction of MAN-EATING SUPER CROC (wt) and the much-anticipated CGI spectacular, MERMAIDS: THE BODY FOUND.

Moving from monsters to monster-sized personalities, Animal Planet is all about larger-than-life characters. From Shorty Rossi of PIT BOSS and Tia Torres of PIT BULLS & PAROLEES to the fun-loving stars of TANKED, the network draws in audiences with the appeal of its real-life, big characters. This summer, HILLBILLY HANDFISHIN' swims its way to its sophomore season, and this time Skipper Bivins and Trent Jackson provide a new twist to the sport of noodling, where one must grab catfish with bare hands and feet. Also making a splash this summer is the new series FISH AMERICA (wt), following avid outdoorsman and professional wrestler Showtime ERic Young on the road as he meets America's MacGyver-esque anglers who employ the craziest types of fishing, like catching 300-pound sharks with nothing but a pair of women's pantyhose!

And get ready for plenty of characters and lots of story with the premiere of TREEHOUSE MEN (wt), about a family business that earns its living bringing mankind closer to nature one spectacular tree house at a time. These folks build the most fabulous, innovative tree homes and endure Mother Nature's shifty antics, dangerous construction equipment and dizzying heights to fulfill the whims and fancies of eccentric clients.

Also new this season and in the spirit of Jeremy Wade's explorations of the elusive corners of the planet, Animal Planet introduces a new adventurer and a big, glorious, natural history series. THE HUNGER (wt), hosted by survivalist Guy Grieve, reveals the significant and complex relationships between humans and the animals with which we share this planet and on which we depend to survive.

Of course it wouldn't be Animal Planet without the channel's hallmark, epic dramas. The muscular conservation phenomenon WHALE WARS returns this April in a new battle, WHALE WARS: VIKING SHORES, followed by its fifth explosive season, premiering this June. On those heels, the network introduces RHINO WARS (wt), an investigation into the exotic animal trade and the nefarious criminals who are bringing an entire species to the brink of extinction for money that rivals the price of gold. The drama continues on the battlefields in GLORY HOUNDS (wt), which features the profound bonds between soldiers and their warrior dogs that display limitless courage and unparalleled loyalty. With military dogs serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, GLORY HOUNDS are integral to our national defense, and the show explores powerful stories of heroism and undying friendship.

If all these series are not awe-inspiring enough, let's try a different awwww factor. Animal Planet's takes the power of cute to new heights, too. The network is sl-awwww-tering its adorableness by bringing in 1.2 million viewers each week with TOO CUTE!, a series that puts kitties and puppies on pedestals. And, this year's Puppy Bowl was the epitome of darling, complete with squeeze-worthy puppies, a tweeting bird, a piggy pep squad and a kitschy kitty halftime. But PUPPY BOWL IX plots the unthinkable - to be even cuter on a whole new level with a 360 degree experience, including puppy fantasy football leagues, mobile apps and live, tailgate adoption parties across America!

Cute's sure to send you overboard, along with the following 2012-2013 Upfront programs:

NEW SERIES AND SPECIALS (in alphabetical order):

FISH AMERICA (wt): Avid outdoorsman and professional wrestler Showtime ERic Young hits the road and crisscrossing the country to celebrate and fish hand to hand with America's most extreme anglers. FISH AMERICA (wt) follows Young as he tracks down some of the most creative, unusual and dangerous fishing rituals around the country. FISH AMERICA takes you on a hunt for massive bass from a speeding kayak in whitewater rapids in Texas and transports viewers to Florida, where anglers capture 300-pound sharks MacGyver style using only a pair of women's pantyhose. Young is on a mission to learn the methods of America's fishing masterminds while embracing the madness of these local traditions, which have been practiced for years. And no matter how long it takes and how many bumps and bruises he gets along the way, Young keeps the adventure going until he catches the ultimate fish.

FRONTIER EARTH WITH DAVE SALMONI (wt): Animal Planet continues its long-standing commitment to natural history programming in FRONTIER EARTH WITH DAVE SALMONI (wt). Throughout the past 15 years, Animal Planet has worked with world's most preeminent producers in this category to bring viewers the latest views of our ever-changing planet. Hosted by Animal Planet's renowned large predator expert Dave Salmoni, this six-part series follows Salmoni on a guided journey to the frontlines of major ecosystems, unfolding the plights of the world's most enigmatic animals. Focusing on the most unique aspects of our natural world and bringing to light independent voices from around the globe, FRONTIER EARTH WITH DAVE SALMONI examines the orca, slow loris, tiger, leopard, Komodo dragon and a tribe of ants like never before.

GLORY HOUNDS (wt): On the battlefields, a remarkable group serves the United States with limitless courage and unparalleled loyalty. Devoted to protecting their comrades, military working dogs serve beside their human partners in Iraq and Afghanistan, only asking for affection in return. The show explores the friendships between man and dog, which are magnified and transformed into deep, emotional bonds that can last the rest of their lives. From tracking insurgents to sniffing out explosive devices, military working dogs are an integral component of the armed forces. GLORY HOUNDS (wt) drops audiences into the heat of battle and reveals extraordinary stories of heroism and friendship that have shaped the lives of the men and women who serve our country.

MONSTER WEEK: MONSTER WEEK is a jam-packed, monster-fest week, showcasing the legendary creatures from wildly popular shows like RIVER MONSTERS, FINDING BIGFOOT, and CALL OF THE WILDMAN. Boasting all-new episodes of these fan-favorite titles, MONSTER WEEK digs deeper into our fascination with these creatures, giving behind-the-scene access into the monster hunters and their hunts. MONSTER WEEK delves into two new mysteries: one involves the hunt and capture of a 20-foot MAN-EATING SUPER CROC, and the other focuses on the possible existence of mermaids. MERMAIDS: THE BODY FOUND is the crescendo of the epic week with a two-hour CGI investigation into the probability of mermaids swimming throughout our waters. It explores a scientific theory that supports the existence of mermaids, and the film imagines how they really appear, how they evolved and the role they play beneath the water's surface. With action and intrigue, MONSTER WEEK takes viewers on an adventure that promises to astound and delight the imagination.

POLAR BEAR FAMILY AND ME (wt): In POLAR BEAR FAMILY AND ME (wt), legendary wildlife filmmaker Gordon Buchanan travels deep into the Arctic for his greatest challenge yet - infiltrating a family of polar bears and documenting the cubs' epic struggle for survival. The Arctic's Svalbard Islands inhabits the highest density of polar bears in the world, and following these dangerous carnivores proves to be the ultimate challenge. Watch as Buchanan attempts to gain the trust of baby polar bear Nikita as it takes its first strides in the frozen splendor of the Arctic. Buchanan documents the baby's first year of joyous triumphs and threatening obstacles. Experience firsthand the frigid and barren landscape in this stunning, groundbreaking miniseries.

RHINO WARS (wt): In spite of heroic efforts by South African anti-poaching units, rhino poachers still run rampant, and the carnage escalates. In 2011, nearly 400 rhinos were killed. Sickened by the slaughter and frustrated by the inability to stop it, a group of private game reserves plans direct action. In RHINO WARS (wt), they band together to try to take down the ruthless poachers by bringing in former U.S. Special Forces operatives. This specialized team hunts the poaching gangs and syndicates of the illegal rhino-horn trade who are slaughtering South Africa's rhinos in record numbers for vast profits.

THE AFTERLIFE: ELEPHANT and THE AFTERLIFE: HIPPO: THE AFTERLIFE: ELEPHANT and THE AFTERLIFE: HIPPO follow the journeys of a fallen elephant and a dying hippopotamus, beginning with their last days and continuing through the new life born out of death. These specials capture the magnificence of the eternal circle of life, focusing on every predator, scavenger, parasite and bacterium that feasts on carrion for survival. Using state-of-the-art technology and integrating testimonies with real-time expert analyses, THE AFTERLIFE: ELEPHANT and THE AFTERLIFE: HIPPO take you on two mystical voyages into the heart of Africa to look at the food chain under a brand-new light.

THE HUNGER (wt): Since the dawn of time, mankind has gone to great lengths, extremes and unbelievable obstacles in order to feed. Driven by hunger even today, people must follow the food trail and do anything to survive, even if that means crawling along the ocean floor during massive waves to scavenge for seafood; climbing the same trees as predatory tigers to share food; or outrunning exotic antelope in their native African fields. Beyond the primal need to eat, what propels different cultures and people to take such risks? In THE HUNGER (wt), host Guy Grieve is the guide to unlock the mysteries behind the ingenious and resourceful ways in which different cultures find, capture, cultivate and eat food around the world. Taking advantage of nature's spectacular abundance and harnessing the skills of the best hunters on the planet, Grieve explores the nexus among people, the natural world and the food they eat.

TREEHOUSE MEN (wt): In the forests outside of Seattle reside a specialized group of men earning their living in the treetops; swinging from tether riggings hundreds of feet off the ground; operating highly dangerous construction equipment; and battling every weather element Mother Nature throws their way. But these guys aren't your everyday ax men; in fact, they're nothing like them. Their singular objective is to fulfill the wishes and desires of their clients, ranging from billionaire CEOs to 10-year-old kids who just want to daydream amongst the clouds. These men are the TREEHOUSE MEN (wt). Led by pioneering tree-house virtuoso Pete Nelson, the TREEHOUSE MEN are an elite team of talented designers, carpenters and builders bonded together to create the most magnificent, whimsical and jaw-dropping tree houses in forests and backyards all across America and around the world. But building these sanctuaries in the sky comes with a host of challenges including crazy deadlines, treacherous terrain, dizzying heights and demanding clients. Pete and his crew work through every obstacle to reach the ultimate goal - to help their clients reconnect with nature by turning their dreams of sky-high havens into breathtaking realities. TREEHOUSE MEN brings us closer to nature one tree house at a time.