Nat Geo Wild Orders Pet Talk Show, Adds Saturday Morning Kids’ Block (Exclusive)

Cable channel also picks up investigative photojournalist series “Mission Critical” and brings back “BarkFest” weekend

Nat Geo Wild has set its first-ever primetime pet talkshow and a new Saturday morning kid’s block. The cable channel will also bring back “BarkFest” weekend and has ordered photojournalist series “Mission Critical,” an entire slate of which TheWrap has learned about exclusively.

The second annual “BarkFest” weekend comes in April, and will include the premieres of “Second Chance Chihuahuas,” “How Dogs Got Their Shapes,” World’s Funniest Dogs,” and “Who’s Your Doggie?”

“Mission Critical” promises to cover “stories that as are urgent as they are timeless,” sending investigative photojournalists “to every corner of the globe to reveal what we need to know now to save iconic species from extinction, protect ourselves and make way for a better, more sustainable planet.” Episodes there include “Leopards at the Door,” “Orangutans on the Edge” (working title), and “Sharks (working title). Watch a promo for “Mission Critical” above.

The new Saturday morning kids’ block is a partnership with National Geographic Kids, and will feature natural history, science, and wildlife content. First, “Nature Boom Time” is a fast-paced adventure series designed to grab kids’ attention and get them psyched about nature. In each episode, young viewers join 2014 National Geographic Expedition Granted winner Charlie Engleman on an adventure across the U.S.

Other shows for the young ones include “50 Birds, 50 States” featuring an animated rapping bald eagle; excerpts from the “kid on the street” quiz show “Real or Fake,” and characters from Iggy Arbuckle and the popular virtual world, “Animal Jam.” Rounding out the schedule, “Nat Geo WildKiDs” will offer exciting segments from some of Nat Geo Wild’s and National Geographic Channel’s most beloved shows, including: “Dog Whisperer,” “Everything You Didn’t Know About Animals,” “The Incredible Dr. Pol,” “Vet School,” “World’s Weirdest” and “Brain Games,” among others.

Finally, Filipe DeAndrade, adventure filmmaker and winner of Nat Geo Wild’s second annual Wild to Inspire short-film competition, will document his month-long safari in Africa through video diaries and short vignettes designed to inspire future conservationists, in a soon-to-be titled project.

Primetime pet talk show “Pet Talk” will be a weekly series hosted by two veterinarians, a wildlife expert, and a field reporter who provides the latest pet news, advice and fascinating personal stories. “Pet Talk” premieres Friday, Feb. 19 at 10 p.m. ET on Nat Geo Wild.

The hosts and production information is posted below, beneath more in-depth descriptions for the aforementioned programming slate.

“As evident with today’s announcements of new series ‘Pet Talk,’ ‘Mission Critical’ and the ‘Nat Geo Wild KiDS’ Saturday programming block, we’re finding exciting new ways to engage and expand our audience,” Nat Geo Wild EVP & GM Geoff Daniels told TheWrap. “Every decision we make for Wild reflects a very clear vision that is driving our brand and business forward across an unparalleled array of global platforms . The channel remains committed to being a destination for family entertainment that is fun, awe-inspiring, real, unexpected, fearless and educational. And in its almost six years on the air, we’ve never wavered from that mission.”

“BarkFest” Weekend
“Second Chance Chihuahuas”
Small towns are under attack. A terrible menace is stalking the streets. Believe it or not, packs of chihuahuas, are wreaking havoc in cities including Phoenix and Los Angeles. But one couple is committed to giving these tiny terrors a second chance. We follow Laura Dash and Jim Peterson as they run Dolittle’s Ranch in Studio City, California, where they have rescued more than 2,000 chihuahuas over the past 10 years. You’ll gain a new appreciation for these petite pooches as you see them taken off the streets, rehabilitated, and adopted into loving homes. Chihuahuas are America’s second most euthanized dog, but Laura and Jim are doing their best to give as many as possible a second chance.

“Who’s Your Doggie?” (working title)
Ever meet a dog and wonder what breed it is? Where it gets its looks or its non-stop energy? Every day dog owners across America speculate exactly what their mutts are made of. “Who’s Your Doggie? finally has the answer. In this special we take six dogs and dig deep into their family roots. After owners explain their mutts’ curious behaviors and physical traits, we bring in a team of experts to do their own analysis. Then we settle the score… with a DNA test. Using one of the most reliable labs in the world, each breed is revealed – and the results will shock you. With an almost endless list of breed combinations, “Who’s Your Doggie?” covers the big, the small, the cute, and the downright crazy.

“How Dogs Got Their Shapes”
Man’s best friend comes in many different shapes and sizes. From the three-pound Yorkie to the 200-pound Great Dane, from a wrinkled shar-pei to the super sleek greyhound, it’s hard to believe that these creatures are all the same species. “How Dogs Got Their Shapes” will look at dogs from their cute noses to their adorable paws, learning the amazing ways that different breeds’ shapes have changed over time. Not just for show, these specialized features help dogs work, hunt, swim, corral, protect, hear and track. In this special, we’ll use a mix of science, history, and surprising, weird facts to learn all about today’s modern dogs.

“World’s Funniest Dogs”
Whether it’s chewed up shoes, or an extremely excited dog that tackles you like a linebacker, these cute but mischievous dogs are making their owners ask, “Oh, what did you do this time?!” Welcome to “World’s Funniest Dogs.” This special features some of the most unbelievable videos of dogs doing hilarious mischief. We also meet the owners and dogs to see if these loving troublemakers are still up to no good, or if they’ve reformed their ways.

“Mission Critical”
“Leopards at the Door,” Premieres Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016
National Geographic photographer Steve Winter has spent his life working to save endangered big cats through his award-winning pictures. Now he turns his lens on an elusive and deadly leopard. In “Mission Critical: Leopards at the Door,” Winter explores Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai and Corbett National Park in northern India to capture extraordinary footage of leopards living in close proximity to humans — and to tell the stories of a broad array of people whose lives have been forever changed by encounters with the elusive big cats.

“Orangutans on the Edge” (working title)
Premieres Spring 2016
National Geographic photographer Tim Laman is on a mission to reveal new threats to wild orangutans and their rain forest homes. Trekking to remote locations and scaling massive trees, he documents the secret lives of our mysterious primate cousins — even as deforestation and poaching threaten their very existence. And his photographs tell the story of an orangutan mother raising her baby in the wild, until a tragic event changes their lives forever.

“Sharks” (working title)
Premieres Spring 2016
Are sharks more than just ocean predators? National Geographic underwater photographer and Instagram star Brian Skerry is on a mission to change how you think about these magnificent creatures. After three decades capturing the world’s oceans on camera, Skerry knows sharks as kings of the oceans who keep these fragile ecosystems functioning, not as violent “Jaws”-like man-eaters. To capture the images he needs to change minds, Skerry searches for some of the most dangerous sharks in the ocean: tiger sharks, makos, oceanic white tips and great whites.

“Pet Talk” Hosts:
Tina Olivieri is a general practitioner who received her doctorate of veterinary medicine from Oklahoma State University (OSU). She worked at the OSU Veterinary Medical Hospital in reproduction, then moved on to small-animal practices in Oklahoma and Southern California. Throughout her career she has grown to understand that there is no greater unconditional love or everlasting friendship than the bond between owner and pet.

Courtney Campbell is a veterinarian and surgical resident at the Animal Medical Center of Southern California. After receiving his doctorate of veterinary medicine from Tuskegee University, he worked as a general practitioner at the Connecticut Veterinary Center. He received advanced surgical training in Florida and Nevada. Courtney is a regular guest on programs including “The Doctors,” “Home and Family,” “The Real,” “Dueling Doctors,” and he is the featured veterinarian on the YouTube channel, “Ask a Vet.”

David Mizejewski is a naturalist and spokesperson for the National Widlife Federation. He holds a degree in human and natural ecology from Emory University and is an expert on wildlife, the environment and green lifestyles. He frequently appears as a wildlife expert on talk shows such as “Good Morning America,” “Today” and “Conan.”

Andre Milan is the oldest son of popular dog behaviorist, Cesar Milan. He began accompanying his father on “Dog Whisperer” TV shoots when he was 5 years old. Andre helped his father at the Dog Psychology Center in Santa Clarita until he started high school. He has a natural love of animals including horses, dogs, cats, pigs and turtles. Andre will be “Pet Talk’s” field reporter, checking in with the latest pet news and events from around the country.

“Pet Talk” is produced by Leepson Bounds Entertainment for Nat Geo Wild. Leepson Bounds executive producers are David Leepson and Andrew Scher. For Nat Geo Wild, executive producer and senior vice president of development and production is Janet Han Vissering, and executive vice president and general manager is Geoff Daniels.