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Panda Babies! Nat Geo Wild Orders Endangered Species Show ‘Mission Critical’ (Exclusive)

TheWrap has your (snuggly) first look at that new monthly program, and another for a New Zealand-based ”Destination Wild“

Nat Geo Wild is upping its conservation game — again — with an order for the new endangered species monthly series “Mission Critical,” TheWrap has learned exclusively.

“Mission Critical” will highlight species at the forefront of extinction and the individuals who are racing against the clock to make a difference, per the cable channel. From adorable baby beluga whales to mischievous Tasmanian devils to elusive leopards, the episodes range from heartwarming to tear-jerking in order to shine a light on those animals that need our attention most.

It’ll all kick off Sunday, Aug. 28, at 8/7c, with the premiere of “Panda Babies,” and will premiere globally in 131 countries and 38 languages. With only an estimated 1,600 giant pandas left in the wild, these adorable animals could disappear. But groups of people are dedicated to bringing this species back from the brink of extinction. So, yes, there are panda maternity wards.

Definitely watch the cuddly teaser above, also exclusive to TheWrap.

In addition that that one, TheWrap has your first look at “Destination Wild: Wild New Zealand,” set to air in November. The series returns two months earlier.

Check that teaser out here:

More details on other episodes can be found at the bottom of this post.

Here are the upcoming “Mission Critical” premieres, all descriptions in Nat Geo Wild’s own words:

“Panda Babies: Mission Critical”
Premieres Sunday, Aug. 28, at 8/7c
In China, one of the planets best-loved and magical creatures is fighting to survive. With fewer than two thousand giant pandas left in the wild, the race is on to build their numbers up. Deep in the Sichuan Mountains, three of the leading panda centers in the world are doing just that, and we’re uncovering the secrets to their success. Journey behind the scenes to three panda maternity wards to see what it takes to save the world’s cutest animal icon. We’ll be visiting a nursery at Bifengxia, to follow the first stages of baby panda life before heading off to Dujiangyan, where toddlers make friends and build relationships. From there it’s on to Wolong, where some pandas are getting ready for life in the wild. Prepare to see pandas as you’ve never seen them before.

“Operation Sumatran Rhino: Mission Critical”
Premieres Sunday, Sept. 18, at 9/8c
In Borneo, Sumatran rhinos’ numbers are down to just single digits. Conservationists are on a desperate mission to save the country’s last individuals. The only way to ensure the safety and survival of these last rhinos is to capture all remaining in the wild — a dangerous and costly operation. Follow Malaysia’s foremost rhino scientists in their incredible quest to save this critically endangered species. 

“Mountain Gorilla: Mission Critical”
Two-Part Special Premieres Sunday, Oct. 9, at 9/8c and 10/9c
Only discovered a century ago, mountain gorillas inhabit a fragile world. A small number of families cling to existence on the forested peaks of isolated volcanoes in three war-torn countries, surrounded on all sides by a growing human population. Discover the unexplored lives, history and uncertain future of this charismatic species. Follow the dedicated teams of vets, rangers, researchers and conservationists who work together to raise awareness of the benefits of this unique species — but their dedicated work will only succeed with the support of all those who share the land with them.

Additional Mission Critical Specials Include:
Saving the Last Devil: Mission Critical premieres Sunday, Nov. 13, at 8/7c
Queen of the Hunt: Mission Critical premieres Sunday, Dec. 4, at 8/7c

And here are some upcoming “Destination Wild” episodes:

“Destination Wild: Disneynature’s Bears”
Premieres Sunday, Aug. 28, at 9/8c
Follow a year in the life of a bear family — mother Sky teaches her two impressionable cubs, Amber and Scout, about life’s most important lessons. Set against a majestic Alaskan backdrop, their journey begins as winter ends. Emerging from hibernation, the three face the bitter cold and an exciting but very risky outside world. Astonishing footage captures the fast-moving action and suspense of an endearing family learning to live life to its fullest in one of the planet’s last great wildernesses.

“Destination Wild: The Forbidden River”
Three-Part Special Premieres Sunday, Sept. 11, at 8/7c, 9/8c and 10/9c
In Northeast Asia, stretching over 3,000 miles from Mongolia eastward to Russia’s Pacific coast and from Siberia southward into China and North Korea, lies the sprawling basin of the Amur River. Journey along this remarkable river and its tributaries to explore the wildlife and the native people inhabiting one of Earth’s greatest remaining wilderness areas.

Additional “Destination Wild” specials Include:
“Destination Wild: Gangster Jackals” premieres Sunday, Sept. 25, at 9/8c
“Destination Wild: Biomimicry” (wt) premieres Sunday, Oct. 2, at 9/8c and 10/9c
“Destination Wild: Dolomites” (wt) premieres Sunday, Oct. 23, at 10/9c
“Destination Wild: Expedition Earth” (wt) premieres Sunday, Nov. 6, at 9/8c and 10/9c
“Destination Wild: Baboon King” (wt) premieres Sunday, Nov. 20, at 8/7c
“Destination Wild: Wild New Zealand” premieres Sunday, Nov. 27, at 8/7c, 9/8c and 10/9c