Nat Geo Plots Programming for 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, Including New Jane Goodall Doc (Exclusive)

TCA 2020: Plus, “Born Wild: Earth Day Live” sounds adorable

Last Updated: January 17, 2020 @ 2:09 PM

Happy Earth Day, Earth. National Geographic Channel has big plans for the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, including some new monkey business from Jane Goodall.

On April 22, Nat Geo and Nat Geo Wild will simulcast two primetime specials in an effort to raise awareness about climate change. The celebration will kick off with an hour-long live broadcast of “Born Wild: Earth Day Live,” which airs at 8/7c on both channels, TheWrap has learned exclusively. It will be followed immediately by the two-hour documentary special, “Jane Goodall: The Hope,” at 9/8c, which will air on both of those channels as well as on National Geographic Mundo.

Watch the trailer for the new Goodall doc via the video above.

Born Wild: Earth Day Live” will be hosted by “GMA” co-anchor Robin Roberts, who will be at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, the largest marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation hospital in the world. There, Roberts will interact with seal and sea lion pups while talking to species experts about efforts to save them.

Other ABC News anchors and correspondents will present segments during the hour-long special on topics including baby humpback whales in the oceans of Maui, lion cubs in the savannas of Kenya, black bear cubs in the forests of Minnesota, and baby orangutans in the jungles of Sumatra.

ABC News’ Matt Gutman will appear from the cliffs of Point Reyes, California, as he helps release a sea lion back into the ocean. WABC-TV weather anchor Sam Champion will appear from Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, where he will feature baby animals from around the world, and “Nightline” co-anchor Juju Chang will appear live from Kenya to feed an orphaned baby elephant.

“The Hope” picks up where National Geographic Documentary Films’ 2017 award-winning “Jane” left off, according to Nat Geo. This two-hour special follows Dr. Goodall throughout her never-ending travels, capturing her relentless commitment and determination to spread a message of hope, the description continued. The film offers an intimate perspective of Dr. Goodall’s pivotal transformation from scientist to inspirational activist and leader in holistic conservation through JGI, and the harrowing obstacles she has faced throughout her remarkable career.

“Featuring an extensive collection of photographs and footage that spans over seven decades, the documentary illustrates how her passion for wildlife and unshakable drive has persevered, making her one of the most important figures in wildlife conservation and galvanizing a future generation to create lasting change,” it read.

“Being out in the forest of Gombe, I had a great sense of spiritual awareness; I began to realize that everything is interconnected,” Dr. Goodall said in a statement. “Since then, every day, it’s become clearer that climate change is an existential threat to our natural world, and if we destroy this world, we destroy our own future. Each day, every single person has the chance to make an impact through small thoughtful choices, and when billions of people make the right choices, we start to transform the world. Don’t give up, there’s always a way forward.”

The rest of Nat Geo’s Earth Day celebration will be filled with programming events on all three channels, including live interstitials, public service announcements and featurettes that showcase National Geographic Explorers’ working around the world to protect the planet. Recent documentaries “Jane” and “Before the Flood” will also air on Earth Day, as well as multiple “Destination Wild” natural history specials. 

The explorers will also be featured in a multi-platform ABC special, “Our Changing Weather,” which focuses on the impact of extreme and changing weather in local communities. It will air on all ABC-owned TV stations in eight markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham and Fresno.

“The reality of our ever-changing planet has always been a major concern and priority for the network, so it makes perfect sense to give this historic 50th anniversary the attention it deserves,” Courteney Monroe, president of global television networks at National Geographic, said. “With our Explorers and scientists around the world in the field working daily to make a difference, we together with our Disney colleagues want to shine a light on this tremendously important day and to raise awareness of the immense challenges facing our environment today.”

“Born Wild: Earth Day Live” is produced in partnership with ABC News, with John R. Green serving as executive producer and Ann Prum as co-executive producer for ABC. Morgan Zalkin serves as executive broadcast producer. Kevin Tao Mohs is executive producer for Nat Geo. Liliana Olszewski will direct the live special.

“Jane Goodall: The Hope” is produced by Lucky 8 for National Geographic, in partnership with Goodall herself, scientific advisor and filmmaker Bill Wallauer, and the staff of the Jane Goodall Institute. For Lucky 8, executive producers are Kim Woodard, Greg Henry, George Kralovansky and Isaac Holub. The special is produced and directed by Woodard and Elizabeth Leiter. For Nat Geo, Tracy Rudolph Jackson executive produces, while Janet Han Vissering is senior vice president of development and production and Geoff Daniels is executive vice president of global unscripted entertainment.

Margeaux Sippell contributed to this story.

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