Animal Planet Slate Features Martin Sheen in ‘Moby Dick’ Movie, Series Starring Basketball Player Yao Ming

Upfronts 2014: Network boasts six new people-based series and 10 specials

Animal Planet’s motto for the past few years has been “Surprisingly Human,” so it should come as no surprise that of the six new series on the network’s 2014-2015 slate, only two have anything remotely to do with the furry critters that are its namesake.

Shows about rugged survivalists in northwest Canada, a reclaimed redwood tree carver and a guy who designs swimming pools are among those that join veteran “surprisingly human” series like “Finding Bigfoot” and “Treehouse Masters” for the upcoming season.

Also read: Animal Planet Wrangles Its Own ‘Duck Dynasty’ With ‘Alaska Bush Family’

But the upcoming slate offers its fair share of animal-centric programming as well, like a training show for misbehaved dogs a la “My Cat From Hell,” and several specials including a Discovery global initiative investigating the illegal rhino ivory trade with former NBA star Yao Ming.

And of course, Puppy Bowl is back for an 11th adorable cuddly pawsome competition on Super Bowl Sunday!

Also read: Animal Planet Calls Hallmark Channel’s ‘Puppy Bowl’ Rip-Off a ‘Copy Cat’

Here is the full list of Animal Planet’s upcoming and returning shows and specials for the 2014-2015 season, as described by the network:

New Series

Animal Planet’s large predator expert Dave Salmoni is no stranger to adventure. Having trekked the globe to study predators and their unique environments, Salmoni combines his hands-on experiences in his new landmark series, DEADLY ISLANDS. Salmoni visits some of the world’s most remote islands to investigate how and why their native inhabitants have been so spectacularly successful at surviving — despite the harshest of conditions. In a unique approach that blends all the splendor of a natural history documentary series with an investigative twist, DEADLY ISLANDS follows Salmoni in the role of detective as he sets out to crack some of the last big secrets of these forgotten places. Salmoni’s skills are tested to the limits as he lives alongside some of Mother Nature’s fiercest predators to solve the mysteries of these DEADLY ISLANDS.

The freeze and thaw periods are the two most deadly times of the year on Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories in Canada. This series follows a handful of survivalists as they hunt for food, drill for water, trade for necessities and protect their turf. It’s a lawless frozen lake of ultra-libertarians forced together during brutal winters. Choosing another kind of lifestyle, these rebels — families, couples and singles — have said goodbye to living life the conventional way on land and taken to floating homes and houseboats… Since they don’t live on land, they don’t pay taxes, and, therefore, no one polices them. The very things that we take for granted – from opening the front door to walking your pet to shopping for groceries and supplies – are incredibly difficult to navigate. As one rebel says, “It’s not man you have to worry about; it’s woman – Mother Nature.”

POOL MASTER extraordinaire Anthony Archer-Wills is distinguished for being the best in the world for what he does — designing and delivering the ultimate swimming experience. A master designer and sculptor, Archer-Wills creates pools to look as though they were formed by nature’s hand more than 1,000 years ago. In each episode of POOL MASTER, Archer-Wills connects to the spirit of each house and its grounds to complement his pool design, and then, he goes on a ‘stone hunt’ in search of the perfect natural rock for the project. Once the client’s dream swimming pool is fulfilled, cameras share the inaugural swim. These are not your everyday swimming holes!

REDWOOD KINGS uncovers the artistry that goes into turning ancient, reclaimed redwood trees into creative works of art. Creating carvings of animated characters, movie and theme-park facades and even treehouses, twin brothers Ron and John Daniels work side by side at their theming company. It isn’t all a forest fairytale though — things can get splintery when “little” brother Ron must turn off the chainsaw and reign in John “The Carving Cowboy” in order to keep every project on schedule and on budget. In the premiere season, the guys and their 40-person crew create a life-sized replica of a gold stamp mill and spinning waterwheel; head back to the glory days of the gold rush for a rustic roadside mall in California; build a Noah’s Ark themed treehouse for the youngest members of a small family church; and design a massive, 22 room, interactive theme-park experience in a historic building in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.

The Rocky Mountains, with more than 3,000 miles of dense forests and rocky peaks, provide the perfect hideaway for fugitives on the run from the law. In Animal Planet’s new six-part series ROCKY MOUNTAIN BOUNTY HUNTERS, two teams of elite fugitive retrieval agents are in hot pursuit of armed and unpredictable delinquents who’ve skipped bail and prefer the treacherous mountainous terrain to facing justice behind bars. ROCKY MOUNTAIN BOUNTY HUNTERS follows professional bounty-hunter pairs Clint and Dayson in Colorado and Rob and “Animal” in Montana as they patrol the harsh environment of the scenic yet deadly Rockies. When fugitives disappear into the immense wilderness inhabited by predators like black bears and mountain lions, it takes a special type of hunter to bring them to justice. Throughout the series, the region’s most-wanted offenders, who have histories of charges ranging from gun running to homicide to drug trafficking, attempt to evade the expert trackers who are always on the hunt. If you run, these wilderness bounty hunters won’t stop until they catch you.

MY TINY TERROR (working title)
With 40 years under her belt, small dog trainer Jacqueline Wilson trains some of the naughtiest and tiniest dogs. These teacup pups may look sweet, but they’re causing mayhem in their owners’ homes. From these pups’ incessant barking at strangers to ankle bites that end with hospitalizations, our expert has seen it all. In MY TINY TERROR (working title), these yappy purse pups and their sometimes even yappier owners are going to learn their manners.


Eric Larsen is just a regular guy from Wisconsin who just happens to be one of the world’s foremost polar explorers. Just last month, he departed Canada to embark on a 49-day adventure across the ice to the North Pole in an attempt to break the speed record for an unsupported trek. Giving viewers at home a chance to experience the majestic landscape and intimate, dangerous encounters with polar bears, he is documenting his every step. But time is of the essence because the frozen path across the Arctic Ocean may not be there forever. Due to climate change, this might be the last time this trip is possible.

We’re part of an extraordinary family. We have hundreds of bizarre and colorful relatives that live fascinating lives in exotic locations, yet most of us know almost nothing about them. Let Animal Planet introduce you to your closest animal cousins: the primates. In PRIMATES: CLASH OF KINGDOMS (working title), primates must navigate complex social situations, and similar to humans, nothing is predictable about them. They’re warring, territorial, protective and mistrustful. At times, they even can be cooperative and friendly. Just like us, their extraordinary diversity and noteworthy behaviors reveal how intriguing and full of drama their kingdoms are.

REVENGE OF THE WHALE (working title)
Based on true events, this two-hour film tells one of history’s greatest stories of survival at sea, which inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Martin Sheen portrays Old Thomas Nickerson, who tells a story of his life as a cabin boy on the ill-fated voyage of the whaling ship the Essex. The action-packed narrative follows Nickerson as, against all odds, he comes through the worst that nature throws at him while growing up quickly in the process. He faces the destructive force of sea storms, the power of whales, the brutal desolation of the sun and sea after the shipwreck and, finally, the dark deeds he must do to survive. The film, a co-production with the BBC, also stars Jonas Armstrong as First Mate Owen Chase and Adam Rayner as Captain Pollard and depicts the pair’s real-life accounts of the sinking of the ship.

SNOW WOLF FAMILY (working title)
In SNOW WOLF FAMILY (working title), veteran wildlife filmmaker Gordon Buchanan attempts what no other person has ever done before: immersing himself in a wild wolf pack in one of the remotest places on Earth — Ellesmere Island, Canada. These arctic wolves are naïve to mankind with little to no exposure to humans, so Buchanan must tread carefully to gain their trust and acceptance. Giving us an intimate and raw glimpse into their unique pack life, Buchanan films their stories. Just south of the North Pole, Ellesmere Island’s rugged terrain, extreme weather conditions and variety of wildlife add to the adventurous landscape of this epic special.

In the final days of the longest dry season in living memory, more than 65 high-tech, remote-controlled cameras and camera teams capture the wild animals of Zambia’s Luangwa Valley as never before. Thirst has trapped the hungry animals close to the Luangwa River, the location of the last substantial source of water and food for hundreds of miles. The river’s banks and surrounding land have been transformed into killing fields. The valley has become a temporary home to an extraordinary assortment of herbivores and predators, including lions, leopards, wild dogs, elephants, Nile crocodiles and hippos. In SURVIVING THE KILL ZONE, viewers have an unprecedented view as these species collide in a daily battle for survival. Each day of life is precious until the rains come.

THE YAO MING PROJECT (working title)
Former Houston Rockets center and NBA basketball star Yao Ming is on a mission to change a 1,000-year-old Chinese tradition and end the trade of illegal ivory and rhino horn in his home country. Now, Animal Planet joins Ming on his mission in a Discovery global initiative to uncover the brutal truth surrounding the multimillion-dollar underground trade, which is being driven by an unprecedented, high demand in China. Cameras capture Ming as he travels to the African savannah for the first time to witness the destruction caused by poachers who systemically slaughter these animals on a daily basis. A journey of transformation for Ming, the 7’6” Olympian’s herculean mission becomes increasingly critical as he realizes the only way to save Africa’s elephants and rhinos from the edge of extinction is to convince the world’s most populous country to break tradition and enter a new era of conservation.

WALKING THE NILE (working title)
In this two-hour special, Animal Planet joins one man on a journey of a lifetime. Expedition leader, writer and photographer Levison Wood has embarked on a 4,250-mile challenging trek to become the first person to successfully walk the entire length of the Nile River. Wood’s journey through Africa takes him through rainforest, desert, savannah and swamp. From its source in the highlands of Rwanda and skirting Lake Victoria before entering South Sudan – the world’s newest country, Wood follows the Nile along its course through the jungles of Tanzania and Uganda. The trip tests Wood’s mental and physical limits as well as his bush-craft skills as he travels with only his backpack through some of Africa’s most remote, hostile and spectacular locations. As he traces old Arab slave routes and crosses the Sahara Desert, Wood meets those who’ve forged new countries out of the ruins of war and revolution while he encounters hippos, crocodiles and lions.

WILD ASIA (working title)
Lands, cultures, civilizations and wildlife are affected by one of nature’s greatest phenomena on an annual basis: the mighty monsoon. From the Himalayas to Northern Australia, this often misinterpreted weather system brings deluge and droughts to places across the globe. WILD ASIA (working title) explores how creatures such as India’s iconic tigers flourish under the tumultuous weather system and nature’s most fascinating transformations that occur in its midst.

WILD AUSTRALIA (working title)
Australia has given birth to some of the most unusual animals on the planet. The species found “down under” are the product of tens of millions of years of evolution that took place on an island continent isolated from all other landmasses for a great part of this time. Kangaroos and koalas aside, this ancient land contains some truly bizarre creatures – mammals that lay eggs, lizards that drink water collected on their backs and snakes that can kill 100 fully grown men with one bite! From the snow-capped mountains of the southeast to the wonder of the majestic Great Barrier Reef, Australia is a land of extremes – a world truly set apart.

Mexico is a country full of rich and diverse landscapes, ranging from deserts and rainforests to lofty mountains and mangrove swamps. Scattered among these varied backdrops, only the greatest variety of wildlife can be found, including jaguars, pronghorn antelopes, ocelots and howler monkeys. With only the most stunning imagery, WILD MEXICO reveals this diverse country’s most treasured gems.


At Animal Planet, the holidays and the end of the year are a ‘claus’ for celebration! So, for the third year in a row, the network is giving its viewers a jolly gift of the HOLIDAY BEST FEST. This celebration of all things Animal Planet fills stockings to the brim with nightly premieres of fan-favorite series and holiday specials. Animal Planet knows how to celebrate, and you can be sure there are going to be surprises under the HOLIDAY BEST FEST tree.

Animal Planet’s MONSTER WEEK is back with all-new stories about the monumental and obscure creatures that may be lurking just below the surface, or worse, right outside your door. If you thought Animal Planet had already uncovered all of the fabulously fearsome creatures that nature has to offer, think again. This May, the jammed-pack week needs nine days to showcase the grotesque and dangerous beasts that sneak in the water and stalk on land. All-new man-eating and super-sized specials accompany nightly premieres of RIVER MONSTERS, and a two-hour marquee special anchor what is sure to be the most frightfully fun kickoff to summer yet. And just when there’s a chill in the air, MONSTER WEEK returns right around Halloween with a frightful harvest of stories to get you in the holiday “spirit” and leave you haunted for weeks to come.

A record 13.5 million viewers tuned in to PUPPY BOWL X to witness the ultimate showdown in animal sports history. Now, Animal Planet’s pup-culture phenomenon PUPPY BOWL returns on Super Bowl Sunday™ 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. Complete with fan favorites including the water bowl cam and kiss cam, this year’s game adds adorable new elements and furry friends to join the action on the grand gridiron.

Returning Series

Talking kitties and sleeping puppies are just some of the adorable pets vying to be crowned AMERICA’S CUTEST. In each episode, a team of celebrity animal experts, including Jackson Galaxy, Shorty Rossi and Dr. Karen Halligan, weighs in on various video categories and has the inevitable task of choosing which snuggly, four-legged friend wins the title.

Animal Planet’s hit series FINDING BIGFOOT returns with all-new episodes that investigate compelling evidence that may prove the existence of the elusive creature. This season, investigations take the team farther across the globe and further into sasquatch history than they’ve ever travelled. 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 – use as much new technology and as many odd techniques as they can. By examining photos and videos of the creature, speaking to local witnesses and luring the mysterious beast with the team’s signature sasquatch calls, the group uncovers startling evidence of the highly intelligent enigma that has eluded capture for centuries and fascinated man for just as long.

GATOR BOYS follows the men and women of Gator Boys Alligator Rescue as they risk life and limb to capture wild alligators using their bare hands and swim with the toothy creatures unprotected in the Florida waters. Frontrunners Paul Bedard and Jimmy Riffle do it all for the love of gators and started the rescue with the goal of getting nuisance alligators out of harm’s way before they are captured and killed by other trappers who profit from harvesting the animals. In this new season, the GATOR BOYS are making another astonishing addition to their tight knit team, and the tale of a giant gator known as “Moby Dick” may have everyone packing for a return trip to Mississippi.

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 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?

Cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy returns for a new season of MY CAT FROM HELL to take on the most catastrophic cat cases anyone ever has encountered. Armed with more than 15 years of experience, a proven training program and his signature guitar case filled with cat toys, Jackson is on a mission to help cat owners find the sources of conflict with their furry friends. This season, Jackson travels for the first time to Austin, San Diego and Portland, Oregon to solve a gamut of feline-related issues and repair the relationships they’re ruining. Whether it’s the cats or the owners behaving badly, leave it to Jackson to save the day!

In NORTH WOODS LAW, Animal Planet follows the adventures of the men and women of Maine’s elite game wardens who save lives and fight crime across 18 million acres of rugged, perilous and unpredictable terrain. In Maine, game wardens must safeguard people and animals within the wilderness while they also enforce general state law. Each day on the job brings unexpected challenges and intense situations. Whether they’re rescuing animals in distress, embarking on search-and-rescue missions or investigating crimes, the game wardens are never far from danger.

Animal Planet’s PIT BULLS & PAROLEES has followed Tia Torres for five seasons as she pours her heart and soul into Villalobos, the largest pit bull rescue in the United States. After relocating the facility from Northern California to New Orleans, Torres has rebuilt her rescue and her life in a city that desperately needs her help and commitment and has welcomed her with open arms. Returning for a sixth season, Torres, with her family and crew of trusted parolees by her side, continues to devote her life to saving dogs in need. Villalobos has become a community stronghold in New Orleans, and the locals call Torres when they’re out of options. But now there’s an overwhelming influx of rescues, sometimes more than 20 dogs at a time, and Torres and her team are struggling to provide food and shelter for them all. Ultimately, the team overcomes incredible challenges, faces a lot of change, meets new faces and says goodbye to old friends, but their dedication to provide pit bulls with safe and loving homes and parolees with a place to find redemption is unwavering.

Animal Planet’s RIVER MONSTERS is a weekly adventure and murder mystery, following extreme angler, biologist and freshwater detective Jeremy Wade’s worldwide search for harrowing tales of man-eating fish with the hope of proving these legends as tall tales or frightening facts. Searching for a variety of aquatic attackers while navigating the globe’s waterways, Wade has taken his life-long passion and turned it into a full-time career. Wade’s RIVER MONSTERS quests have him diving and reeling in fascinating and mysterious creatures – all alleged man killers! The April 6th season premiere is followed by the network’s first-ever live after show with Jeremy Wade.

As co-owners of Las Vegas-based Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM), one of the country’s most successful builders of aquariums and two of Sin City’s most imaginative businessmen, Wayde King and Brett Raymer are tasked with building some of the most enormous and awe-inspiring tanks and aquariums for top celebrities, luxury hotels and casinos, Fortune 500 businesses, private homes and millionaire homeowners across the country that are filled with the most exotic, unusual, colorful and dangerous fish in the world. ATM takes on more than 200 projects every year with tanks ranging from 50 to 50,000 gallons in size.

Three adorable litters, three fascinating breeds and one amazing story of animals coming of age. The first few months of an animal’s life are delightful in a brand-new world, where cute and cuddly knows no bounds and where fluffy reigns supreme. From a kitten’s first tentative steps, to a puppy’s first bark, to the first awkward meeting between a deer and a kangaroo, witness the miracle of our furry friends, which is simply too loveable, too curious and TOO CUTE!

Often described as a tree whisperer by his clients, colleagues and contemporaries, Pete Nelson dedicates himself to granting people’s dreams of turning peaceful nooks in nature into the ultimate escapes. In TREEHOUSE MASTERS, Nelson and his team execute the most outrageous treehouses designed to delight every whimsy, form and function. Whether he’s contriving magnificent multi-bedroom treehouses with state-of-the-art kitchens and bathrooms or rendering simpler, peaceful, one-room escapes, Nelson always goes out on a limb to create the most breathtaking treehouses with spectacular vistas.