Nat Geo Wild Orders 3 New Vet Shows and 2 More Zoo Series; Renews 6 Others (Exclusive)

TCA 2020: “The Real Black Panther” seems cool — until he gets mauled by a leopard named Scarface

Last Updated: January 17, 2020 @ 2:35 PM

Nat Geo Wild has renewed “Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet,” “Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER,” “The Incredible Dr. Pol,” “Secrets of the Zoo,” “Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa” and “Savage Kingdom,” TheWrap has learned exclusively.

A third “Secrets of the Zoo” installment, the “Down Under” version, has been ordered to series. Aussie actress Naomi Watts will narrate that version.

Additionally, Nat Geo Wild has ordered three new vet shows and two new zoo ones, among other series, including “The Real Black Panther.”

TheWrap’s got your first look at “The Real Black Panther” in the video above. This cat runs into a Killmonger of his own — in the form of a leopard named Scarface.

Geoff Daniels, executive vice president of global unscripted entertainment for National Geographic Global Networks, has a lot to say about how far his 10-year-old cable channel has come — and where it’s going.

“Nat Geo Wild has distinguished itself as the premier destination for viewers who love animals and the natural world as much as we do. Over the years, we’ve been incredibly successful in breaking through with passionate animal caregivers, experts and advocates who are the heart and soul of our biggest hit series. We’ve also transformed National Geographic into a world leader in the creation of awe-inspiring blue-chip natural history,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our results; the real-world impact we’ve had over these past 10 years; the lives we’ve touched; and the trails we continue to blaze. This is all in service of National Geographic’s mission and commitment to inspiring family audiences everywhere to join us in making our planet a better place for all living things for generations to come.”

Below are the new and returning series and specials, all in Nat Geo Wild’s own words.

Vet Series
New Shows:
“Heartland Docs, DVM”
Premieres Saturday, January 25, 10/9c; 6 one-hour episodes
In picturesque, rural Hartington, Nebraska, Drs. Erin and Ben Schroeder are a married team of veterinarians whose unbridled commitment to the community’s generational farmers is paramount to the preservation of the nation’s food supply. Along with their two sons, Charlie and Chase, the doctors are always on the go as their veterinary practice cares for the region’s myriad animals in need, including cows, potbellied pigs, llamas, deer and possum. The Schroeders’ credo extends beyond saving the animals on which America depends; it’s about making each visit something to look forward to for both the animals and their caretakers, even in the toughest conditions. From winter blizzards to spring tornadoes and blistering summer heat waves, Drs. Erin and Ben Schroeder overcome the obstacles with skill and heart.

“Critter Fixers: Country Vets”
Premieres Saturday, March 7, 10/9c; 6 one-hour episodes
Dr. Vernard Hodges and Dr. Terrence Ferguson are two lifelong friends who own and operate Critter Fixer Veterinary Hospital, located 100 miles south of Atlanta. Together with their loving staff, these physicians bring real heart, soul and a lot of humor to their treatment and care of more than 20,000 patients a year across their two locations. Between emergency visits to the office and farm calls throughout rural Georgia, this special team is constantly bombarded with unique cases. From a police dog with cactus thorns around her eye to a potbellied pig with life-threatening lacerations, for the Critter Fixer team, there is no such thing as “normal.”

“Dr. Ole” (WT)
Premieres Summer 2020; 8 one-hour episodes; produced by High Noon Entertainment
Dr. Ole Alcumbrac owns White Mountain Animal Hospital, a full-service animal clinic in Pinetop, Arizona, that cares for everything from cats and dogs to exotics and large animals. But this self-described ‘wild man’ isn’t your typical veterinarian, and it’s his work outside of the clinic that excites him most. Whether he’s helicoptering around the country on rescue and relocation missions, working on wild and dangerous species at two of Arizona’s wildlife parks (where he’s the resident vet), or flying to Mexico to do emergency dental work on jaguars, no two days are ever the same for Ole. Just like the wild animals he cares for, Dr. Ole Alcumbrac can’t be tamed!

Renewals:
“Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet”
Premieres Saturday, March 21, 8/7c; 8 one-hour episodes; produced by Lucky Dog Productions
Every day is a new challenge for Dr. Michelle Oakley, the only all-species vet for hundreds of miles in the Yukon. Whether wrestling bison, tracking ibex in the mountains, performing surgery on a bear or braving frozen landscapes to return lynx to the wild, Dr. Oakley does whatever it takes to keep the animals in her charge safe and healthy.

“Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER”
Premieres Sunday, May 31, 9/8c; 6 one-hour episodes; produced by Remedy
The cases are as wild and unexpected as are the animals that come through the doors. Dr. Susan Kelleher ‘Dr. K’ owns and operates one of the busiest exotic animal care practices in South Florida. Along with her skilled and dedicated staff, she treats a dynamic array of patients ranging from goats to monkeys, birds, rabbits, pigs, fish and every imaginable animal in between. “Everything but dogs and cats. If it will fit through the door, I’ll treat it,” is Dr. K’s motto!

“The Incredible Dr. Pol”
Premieres Summer 2020; 10 one-hour episodes; produced by National Geographic Studios
On this rip-roaring season, the docs are off to the races as they zoom from critical clinic visits to emergency farm calls. Strap in for a wild ride as the crew of Pol Veterinary Services works around the clock to pull calves, push prolapses and attempt to triage the mayhem that comes with the central Michigan territory. A call comes in from the Isabella County Sheriff’s Office after a four-year-old Beagle mix is hit by a car with no owner in sight. Doc bolts from the clinic to save the wounded pup, but is it enough to get him back on his four paws? Meanwhile, Charles and Beth welcome their bundle of joy, Abigail! The family is over the moon and absolutely smitten with the new addition. It’s sure to be a wild ride on this abscess-draining, bull-wrangling, baby-snuggling, momentous season.

Zoo Docuseries
New Shows:
“Secrets of the Zoo: Down Under”
Premieres Sunday, March 1, 10/9c; 10 one-hour episodes; produced by McAvoy Media
The series gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to run one of the world’s most famous and magnificent zoos. For the 240 keepers and vets who care for the more than 5,000 animals at the park, this is no nine-to-five job! In fact, it’s a second home. In this entertaining and compelling series, no area of the park’s 52 acres, set on the spectacular Sydney Harbour, is off limits. The zookeepers are the conduit to some amazing animal stories, including a giraffe that’s been transported from Dubbo, a captured shark that’s been nurtured for release and a cranky elephant that’s refusing to mate.

“World’s Biggest Zoo” (WT)
Premieres Fall 2020; 8 one-hour episodes; produced by Double Act TV
Welcome to North Carolina, home to the largest zoo in the world. Spread out over an enormous 2,600 acres, this AZA accredited zoo has thousands of individual animals, more than 212 species and a diverse range of landscapes, including swamps, prairies, rivers, forests and even a desert. It’s more of a wildlife reserve than a traditional zoo, and many species share habitats as they would in the wild. At a time when the traditional concept of a zoo seems out of sync with animal welfare, the North Carolina Zoo leads the way and has achieved global recognition for setting zoo standards. The eight-part series features stories of every kind — from emergency and routine animal procedures and animal husbandry to rescue, rehabilitation and release.

Renewals:
“Secrets of the Zoo”
Premieres Sunday, February 23, 9/8c; 6 one-hour episodes; produced by Remedy
Season 2 returns with even more behind-the-scenes access to one of the nation’s largest and most popular zoos, The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. With 2,000 employees, 10,000 animals, 6,000 veterinary cases and more than 100 animal births each year, the zoo opens its doors to viewers and tells the dramatic, heartwarming and often hilarious stories of the animals they care for. No two days are alike at the zoo as veterinarians and keepers say goodbye to some old animal friends and welcome new ones. And there’s never a dull moment when your patients range from pregnant giraffes and elephants to a cougar with a toothache and a sloth bear with a mysterious condition.   

“Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa”
Premieres Summer 2020; 6 one-hour episodes; produced by Remedy
“Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa” embraces the wild side of the Sunshine State. With a stellar zoo team devoted to an exotic cast of animals, this dedicated team not only cares for its own lovable zoo family but also rescues and rehabs animals in need, including orphaned black bear cubs, injured panthers, manatees, otters and alligators. 

Animal Rescue and Conservation
New Shows:
“Alaska Animal Rescue”
Premieres Saturday, April 11, 9/8c; 6 one-hour episodes; produced by Symbio Studios
This groundbreaking series follows wildlife heroes from three renowned conservation centers as they respond to animals in need. Whether caring for a stranded sea lion, an orphaned lynx or an injured eagle, these are the people on the front lines, willing to do whatever it takes to rescue and preserve Alaska’s wildlife. The Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward monitors the state’s 6,640 miles of coastline, helping a diverse range of marine life, including walruses, whales, otters and octopuses. Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka specializes in the state’s airborne animals, like bald eagles, owls and other birds of prey. And the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage takes on the biggest and most iconic land animals, including bears, wolves and bison. These dedicated first responders, veterinarians and animal caretakers work hands on — day in and day out — through dangerous terrain and unforgiving climates to rescue and rehabilitate these animals to make sure this wild state stays wild.

“Jungle Animal Rescue”
Premieres Saturday, April 18, 10/9c; 6 one-hour episodes; produced by Double Act TV
A land of elephants, tigers, leopards and bears, India is one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth. But it’s also home to 1.3 billion people who increasingly compete with wild animals for living space. Now, a dedicated team of conservationists and vets are on a mission to rescue animals in distress and find a way for India’s people and wildlife to coexist in harmony.

Natural History
New shows and specials:
“The Hidden Kingdoms of China”
Premieres Monday, March 23, 9/8c; 5 one-hour episodes; produced by Brian Leith Productions
China is the world’s most populated country with more than 1.4 billion people inhabiting its vast and extreme wild lands alongside creatures seen nowhere else in the world. Some of its secrets are still undiscovered … until now. “The Hidden Kingdoms of China” highlights the nation’s beauty and grandeur, from the highest mountains and plateaus to its thickest jungles and bamboo forests. With unparalleled access, the epic two-hour natural history special introduces viewers to the real-life drama surrounding the snub-nosed monkey, Tibetan fox, snow leopard and a kaleidoscope of jungle creatures, and even reveals never-before-seen behavior from the nation’s most iconic animal — the giant panda.

“The Real Black Panther”
One-hour special premieres Winter 2020; produced by Symbio Studios
The hot, dry, deciduous jungles of South India are no place for a melanistic leopard. But Saya is different. He is the only black panther in the entire Kabini Forest, and he’s got one thing on his mind: to take over and make this leopard paradise his own. But Scarface, the current ruler, won’t give it up easily. With one eye on his prey and the other on the ever-changing skies, Saya must befriend the sun and the clouds to master the shadows so that he can move unnoticed and hunt successfully. Between these trees lies an untold story — one that defies the laws of natural selection. Furthermore, it’s a story of astounding adaptability and success. Told in first-person narrative, this is the journey of Saya — the real black panther.

“March of the Polar Bears”
Two-hour special premieres Winter 2020; produced by Earth Touch USA
As the Arctic changes faster than ever, a team of polar bear guides prepares for an epic journey: a first-ever attempt to follow polar bears traversing the sea ice of Hudson Bay. In this high-stakes, high-reward venture, the team documents the secret world of polar bears and the mysterious and disappearing realm that is the bears’ key to survival. Life on the ice is a critical time for these bears. It also remains undocumented, deemed too dangerous for humans to follow, hinted at only through aerial reconnaissance and satellite collar research. The team, armed with traditional ecological knowledge and the latest 4K camera technology, witnesses never-before-seen seal-hunting strategies and documents rapid adaptations to climate change, including whale predation and open-water hunting.

Renewals:
“Savage Kingdom”
Three-week event series premieres Winter 2020; produced by Icon Films
In the epic sequel to “Savage Kingdom” comes the eagerly awaited real-life drama from the heart of Mombo, Northern Botswana. In the tumultuous aftermath of the previous season, the kings return to purge the kingdom of the hyenas’ rule and regain control of their lands. As the tables turn, every player in this Big Game of Thrones must fight not only to survive but to defend its rightful place in a changing kingdom. And as more lions enter this bloody battlefield to fight for their share of the power, only the strongest and most audacious can be victorious. War is the heartbeat of the “Savage Kingdom,” and there can be only one ruler.

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