Nat Geo Wild 2019-20 Slate Goes ‘Dr Pol’ Crazy, Cashes in on ‘Black Panther’ (Exclusive)

Cable channel renews “Dr. Oakley: Yukon Vet,” “Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER” and “Snake City,” greenlights new zoo series

Nat Geo will unveil its 2019-20 programming slate on Tuesday, presenting as part of new parent company Disney’s upfront event. For those who can’t wait that long to walk on the “Wild” side, TheWrap can exclusively reveal Nat Geo Wild’s news now.

For starters, “The Incredible Dr. Pol,” “Dr. Oakley: Yukon Vet,” “Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER” and “Snake City” have all been renewed. For “Dr. Pol,” Nat Geo Wild’s longest-running and highest-rated series, the next run will mark its 16th season.

You’ll notice a lot more Pol programming in the slate, including two events, “12 Days of Pol” and “4th of Pol-y.” What a treat. That’s a little vet humor.

Additionally, Nat Geo Wild has ordered six new series, including “Critter Fixers,” which premieres this fall and follows two fun-loving longtime friends who own and operate Critter Fixer Veterinary Hospital, located outside of Atlanta. “Homestead Vets” follows a charming husband and wife veterinary team who work in America’s heartland caring for the animals of Midwestern farmers. “Animal SOS” drops into the fast-paced and jaw-dropping world of wildlife rescuers in India — where dedicated guardians of the animal kingdom keep everything from elephants and tigers to leopards and hyenas safe from animal-human encounters.

Those three will be joined by “Zoo Tampa,” “Lonestar Vet,” and the previously announced “Prairie Dog Manor,” which readers can learn more about below.

Nat Geo Wild also announced several new natural history specials, including “Kingdom of the White Wolf,” a film that follows National Geographic Explorer and photographer Ronan Donovan as he embeds with a pack of wolves in the Arctic for a breathtaking, rarely seen look at the mysterious lives of these gorgeous predators, and “Rise of the Black Panther,” the powerful coming-of-age story of Saaya the leopard.

Upcoming special “March of the Polar Bears” will follow a team of polar bear guides as they prepare for an epic journey — a first-ever attempt to follow the bears of Hudson Bay onto the surrounding sea ice to reveal the secrets and challenges of their survival.

Also returning this year are fan-favorite summer stunts such as the eighth annual “SharkFest” and the network’s yearly Thanksgiving family marathon treat, “Vetsgiving.”

“Nat Geo Wild continues to be the true destination of choice for people who love animals as much as we do, with a new slate that demonstrates our unbridled commitment to providing extraordinary stories that entertain, educate and inspire viewers of all ages,” Geoff Daniels, executive vice president of global unscripted entertainment for National Geographic Global Networks, told TheWrap. “This is family viewing at its finest, with a lineup centered on heartwarming, awe-inspiring animal-first storytelling that you just can’t get anywhere else.”

Below is the slate broken down by category. All are working titles and subject to change. The descriptions — and puns — are in Nat Geo Wild’s own words.

New Series

“Animal SOS”
Six-Part Series Premieres Winter 2020 (Double Act)
India is home to an amazing range of wildlife — from tigers, leopards and elephants to rhinos, lions and bears — as well as 1.3 billion people who share their living space. The gorgeous wild areas surrounding India’s cities thrive with wildlife, which can sometimes lead to some dramatic animal-human encounters within city limits. That’s where “Animal SOS” comes in. Follow this dedicated team of wildlife warriors as they work to protect both the animals and the humans they encounter. This team has seen it all — elephants running riot in villages, leopards lunging from roofs of city centers, troops of monkeys stealing food in markets, hyenas entering high school classrooms, crocodiles sunbathing on golf courses and snakes hiding in toilets. No two days are the same for these brave animal relocators, so who you gonna call? India Wildlife SOS.

“Critter Fixers”
New Six-Part Series Premieres Winter 2020 (Hit+Run Creative)
Dr. Hodges and Dr. 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. Between emergency visits to the office and farm calls throughout rural Georgia, this special team is constantly bombarded with unique cases you’ll only see on “Critter Fixers.” From a police dog rushed in 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,” and the family at Critter Fixer does it all.

“Homestead Vets”
New Six-Part Series Premieres Spring 2020 (Glass Entertainment)
In picturesque rural Nebraska, husband and wife veterinary team Drs. Ben and Erin Schroeder live and work at the center of America’s food chain, where the livelihoods of Midwestern farmers connect to families nationwide. This animal-loving couple, along with their two sons, Charlie and Chase, are always on the go as their veterinary practice cares for the region’s many animals in need. Follow the Schroeders as they rush to help animals in need — even in some of this region’s toughest weather conditions. From winter blizzards to spring tornadoes and blistering summer heat waves, Drs. Ben and Erin overcome the obstacles with skill and heart. The Schroeders’ credo is to not just save the animals America depends on but to make each visit something to look forward to — for both the animals and their caretakers.

“Lonestar Vet”
New Eight-Part Series Premieres Fall 2019 (Spectrum Productions)
Dr. Lauren Thielen is heading home to Texas, where her love for animals began, to start her very own exotic animal clinic at one of state’s largest animal hospitals! In her new series,Lonestar Vet,” we’ll follow Dr. T as she takes the reins on some of the most challenging and compelling cases of her career, caring for everything from emus to hedgehogs, whatever else comes through the door. With the support of the hospital’s 24/7 emergency vet team, Dr. Thielen will deliver dramatic and heartwarming stories of animals in need, all with her Texas-sized dose of charm we’ve all come to love. Join Dr. T on her journey to create her own legacy as she follows her dreams.

“Prairie Dog Manor”
New 12-Part Series Premieres Fall 2019 (Radley Studios)
Think meerkats are the most entertaining critters in the animal kingdom? Think again! Just outside the quiet village of Jemez Springs, near the New Mexico-Colorado border, lives a vibrant prairie dog colony packed with secrets. What these animals lack in size, they make up for in drama. Prairie dogs are highly intelligent, social animals that live in communities made up of a dozen or more tight-knit family clans, and just like any small town, the Jemez prairie dog colony has its fair share of drama. On the outside, you’ll see a group of prairie dogs pleasantly playing and nursing newborns … but take a closer look and you’ll see adultery, murder and the occasional case of cannibalism. Join biologist John Hoogland, who has studied the lives of these prairie dogs for 43 years, as he brings us into their incredible world.

“Zoo Tampa”
New Six-Part Series Premieres Winter 2020 (Spectrum Productions)
With the success of “Secrets of the Zoo,” Nat Geo Wild is heading to the Sunshine State. Zoo Tampa is home to an exotic cast of animals with a stellar team of humans devoted to them. With our unprecedented access and unparalleled visual storytelling, Nat Geo Wild brings you an intimate and engrossing glimpse of where it’s all happening: From the ecstatic highs of a new arrival to the tearful farewells for an old friend, from the cute and cuddly to the stunning apex predator, “Zoo Tampa” is the ideal destination for anyone who loves animals.

Returning Series

“K’s Exotic Animal ER”
Season Eight Premieres Fall 2019 (Spectrum Productions)
Nat Geo Wild’s star of Sunday nights returns for an all-new season! Dr. K’s exotic cases and cures are as wild and unexpected as the animals that come through the door. Over the years, this clinic has seen some crazy cases, like a tortoise needing a customized skateboard to assist it with walking, a rescued potbellied pig that got an eyelift and a skunk that let loose on the clinic staff. Along with her dedicated staff of vets and techs, Dr. Susan Kelleher treats a dynamic array of patients, ranging from kangaroos to monkeys, birds, rabbits, pigs and fish and every imaginable animal in between.

“Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet”
Season TBD Premieres October 2019 (Lucky Dog Films)
Dr. Michelle Oakley continues to make house calls across thousands of square miles in the Yukon in northern Canada and throughout Alaska, where she’s responding to some of the most unique and challenging cases of her career. From moving bears with tractors and horses with helicopters to castrating angry boars and capturing wild bison, she’ll have to use every trick she knows to save these animals. Accompanied by her daughters and armed with a sense of humor as sharp as a scalpel, Dr. Oakley deftly juggles all animals — great and small — throughout the isolated regions of the Yukon and Alaska.

“The Incredible Dr. Pol”
Season 16 Premieres Winter 2020 (National Geographic Studios)
Nat Geo Wild’s longest-running and most successful series, “The Incredible Dr. Pol,” is MOOOOO-ving into its 16th season! There isn’t much that veterinarian Dr. Jan Pol — whom the Los Angeles Times called “the no-nonsense, Dutch American doctor who can fashion a goat’s leg splint out of parts from an old apple barrel” — hasn’t seen or done in a half century of practicing animal medicine, but every day presents new surprises as he and his staff at Pol Veterinary Services wrangle animals and tackle tricky problems at their clinic in rural Michigan. With some surprising and complicated cases, heartwarming moments and dramatic situations, the 16th season of “The Incredible Dr. Pol” is sure to be a wild ride.

“Snake City”
Season Six Premieres Fall 2020 (Earth Touch)
An all new sssss-season of “Snake City” is slithering its way back to your TVs! Join extreme snake wrangler Simon Keys and his herpetologist girlfriend Siouxsie Gillett as they respond to terrified calls from people who have problem snakes in their houses and yards in the coastal city of Durban, South Africa. Unfortunately for the clients, business is booming for Keys and Gillett as the summer heat brings the native snakes — like spitting cobras, green mambas, black mambas, pythons and more — out of hiding and into people’s homes. This brave duo captures these venomous snakes by hand and then releases them back to safety in the wild.

Events

“Vetsgiving”
Weekend-Long Event Premieres Thanksgiving, Nov. 28, 2019
It’s time to give thanks, and Nat Geo Wild celebrates its stable of family-friendly veterinary programs, including “Secrets of the Zoo,” “Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER,” “Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet” and the network’s top series, “The Incredible Dr. Pol,” with “Vetsgiving.” This weekend-long programming event highlights the empathy, skill and love demonstrated by our amazing vets across the country.

“12 Days of Pol”
12-Day Event Begins Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2019
Four peacocks, three cows, two elk and one pregnant pig — when you are with Dr. Jan Pol, you never know what’s coming. Celebrate the season with “12 Days of Pol.” Light that yule log, curl up on the couch and tune in for Nat Geo Wild’s festive event.

Eight Annual “SharkFest”
Annual Event Premieres Summer 2020
Television’s second-best week of sharks returns next summer with incredible stories from the world’s leading scientists along with wall-to-wall sharks. Nat Geo Wild is your go-to channel for the most sharks per square inch of television.

“4th of Pol-y”
Weeklong Event Premieres Summer 2020
Come for the fun and stay for the fireworks. Nat Geo Wild’s favorite firecracker, Dr. Pol, returns for a summertime celebration like never before.

Specials

“Kingdom of the White Wolf”
Three-Part Special Event Premieres August 2019 (Market Road Films)
Journey to the Arctic with National Geographic Explorer Ronan Donovan to witness a gorgeous and desolate world where wolves hunt, howl and raise their families. As we embed with the pack, experience unprecedented intimacy with a species steeped in legend, rumor and fear. This one-of-a-kind special blends classic blue-chip wildlife filmmaking with immersive, raw and breathless reality to showcase these wolves in their natural habitat.

“March of the Polar Bear”
Two-Hour Special Event Premieres Summer 2020 (Earthtouch)
As the landscape of the Arctic continues to rapidly change, a team of polar bear guides prepares for an epic journey: a first-ever attempt to follow the bears onto the sea ice of Hudson Bay. In this high-stakes, high-reward venture, they will document the secret world of these magnificent creatures, a mysterious and disappearing realm that is the bears’ key to survival. Life on the ice is under critical pressure 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 camera technology, hopes to witness never-before-seen seal hunting strategies and rapid adaptations to climate change, including whale predation and open-water hunting.

“Rise of the Black Panther”
One-Hour Special Event Premieres 2020 (Symbio Studios)
This isn’t Wakanda. Deep in south India is a jungle kingdom that has inspired legends. Kabini, the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, is home to a rogue confederation of animal tribes all vying for territory, power and resources. Now a new king, Saaya, is on the rise. He is the only black panther in this jungle. Lineage doesn’t favor him, but he’s got cunning and grit — and he plans to claim Kabini as his kingdom. From internal struggles for power to a cast reminiscent of “The Jungle Book,” “Rise of the Black Panther” transports you to the heart of this jungle kingdom. All hail the new king!

“Wildcats of India”
Two-Hour Special Event Premieres Winter 2020 (Felis Creations)
India’s wildcats are the apex predators across the verdant rain forests, parched deserts, bustling cities, lush mangroves and mountainous valleys that they patrol. Designed to hunt, the wildcat is one of nature’s most successful super-predators. With their discerning reflexes, detonating muscular power and a finely crafted survival instinct, these beasts — whether they’re big or little cats — rest at the pinnacle of their ecosystems.

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