Tracking Elusive Jungle Jaguars, Investigating Unprecedented Battles Between Big Cat Species, Pursuing Mountain Lions under Siege by Wolves and Rescuing Cubs So Rare They’ve Almost Never Been Filmed in the Wild
Big Cat Week Premieres Sunday, December 11, through
Saturday, December 17, 2011, on Nat Geo WILD
(WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 2, 2011) The beauty and agility of nature’s most majestic cats, including lions, tigers, cheetahs, jaguars and cougars from around the world, have enthralled us and captured our imaginations. Their incredible strength and skill have amazed us for years, leaving us wanting to discover more. Now, Nat Geo WILD gets closer than ever, studying big cats in their habitat as they kill prey for survival, mate and care for their cubs.
Nat Geo WILD presents the SECOND ANNUAL BIG CAT WEEK to dramatically showcase the world’s most extraordinary big cat species premiering Sunday, December 11 through Saturday, December 17, 2011. The seven-night television event features visually stunning and powerfully resonant stories of nature’s fiercest felines and the people working to save these majestic cats. This year, BIG CAT WEEK premieres include programs from Dereck and Beverly Joubert, award-winning filmmakers and National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence; wildlife naturalist Casey Anderson; and expert big cat wrangler Boone Smith, a fourth-generation tracker and houndsman.
More than a television event, BIG CAT WEEK is an extension of National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative (BCI), a long-term commitment to halt the decline of these iconic animals in the wild. This year’s shows document some of the world’s most iconic and endangered predators. Did you know that Africa’s lion population has declined by more than 90 percent in the last 50 years? That there are now more tigers living in captivity than in the wild? And that, cheetahs have disappeared from more than 75 percent of their range?
To address this critical situation, Nat Geo WILD is asking people to “Cause an Uproar” and support BCI. This year’s BIG CAT WEEK follows a series of fall events, including the BCI Educator Conference, which brought together leading experts and teachers to bring information on big cats into classrooms around the country, and the first annual Trick-or-Treat for Big Cats Program, an initiative to encourage kids to collect change for BCI along with their candy.
Big Cat Week Premieres include:
Stalking the Mountain Lion with Casey Anderson
Sunday, December 11, 2011, at 8 p.m. ET/PT
Naturalist Casey Anderson sets out to track one of North America’s most elusive ghosts: the mountain lion. Casey’s longtime friend and cat expert Tyler Johnerson is on hand to help him in his quest to witness “the ghost of the Rockies.” Armed with specialized camera technology, they hope to capture never-before-seen footage of mountain lions and their cubs living in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. A nearly impossible challenge given that this formidable and cunning predator is capable of jumping vertically nearly 20 feet in a single leap.
Sunday, December 11, 2011, at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Cougars struggling to survive in the severe landscape of the northern Rocky Mountains have a new archenemy to contend with—reintroduced wolves competing for game and out to kill their cubs. With data pointing to unprecedented deaths of cougar kittens, big cat wrangler Boone Smith mounts a grueling expedition to track, capture and radio-collar cougars to study how this species is adapting. To gain insights, Boone will meet with Dr. Howard Quigley, a world-renowned expert on big cats. On our journey, we’ll come face-to-face with a crafty young female preparing to deliver her unborn litter in the territory of wolves. Then see how another resourceful cougar demonstrates her escape skills as Boone and team race the clock to replace her failing radio collar before the essential data she carries vanish into the rugged landscape forever.
Cat Wars: Lion vs. Cheetah
Sunday, December 11, 2011, at 10 p.m. ET/PT
Caught on tape in Africa’s wild Serengeti is a stunning act of violence between two top predators. Three cheetahs are brutally attacked by two male lions — the first time an attack like this has ever been filmed. Now, filmmaker Leo Kuenkel, who witnessed the attack, is trying to make sense of it. Was this a once-in-a-lifetime “perfect storm” event? Or do these iconic African cats have a deep-set, sinister reason to fight to the death? Joining forces with world-renowned lion expert Craig Packer, they put the best scientific theories to the test, going frame by frame through the footage of this extraordinary fight. Along the way, we’ll make stunning revelations about the dark relationship between lions and cheetahs, and perhaps finally explain this great wildlife mystery.
Hunt for the Shadow Cat
Monday, December 12, 2011, at 9 p.m. ET/PT
The jaguar — some call it the most mysterious and magnificent of all big cats. Ancient cultures considered them gods for their power, beauty and speed. But little is really known about this species that stalks the deepest jungles. Researchers have collected information about male jaguars, but half of the picture is missing … we don’t know as much about females. For the first time, Boone Smith brings his expertise to Central and South America as he teams up with Dr. Howard Quigley, who leads Panthera’s Jaguar Program. They are on a mission to capture, film and attach sophisticated tracking collars on the cunning and elusive jaguars — including a female — in the jungles of Belize and the swamps of Brazil and finally enter the jaguar’s secret lair.
Night Stalkers: Jaguar Ambush
Monday, December 12, 2011, at 10 p.m. ET/PT
Wildlife filmmaker Martin Dohrn leads an expert team of night-filming specialists into the jungles of Costa Rica on the hunt for Central America’s big cats. Pumas, ocelots and the elusive jaguar all live in the dense tropical forest, but filming them is far from an easy task. Starlight, thermal and infrared cameras are deployed throughout the forest, together with remotely operated cameras suspended above and on the forest floor. With the forest wired for night vision, it’s only a matter of time before the team starts to discover mysterious big cats.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011, at 10 p.m. ET/PT
A pride of lions is on its knees. Its mighty male was killed by poachers, leaving three mothers and their cubs vulnerable in one of the toughest landscapes in Africa. Hunting in the shoulder-deep mud of Busanga Swamp is all but impossible, and deadly hippos and crocodiles patrol the ever-present waters. Trying to hunt while protecting their cubs is a daunting challenge, but now the threats are even greater, as two massive male lions want to claim the females and the territory as their own. To accomplish this they must kill its cubs, but the mothers are ready to fight tooth and claw to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Return of the Clouded Leopards
Wednesday, December 14, 2011, at 10 p.m. ET/PT
Two very rare 6-week-old clouded leopard cubs are rescued from poachers, giving conservationist and filmmaker Sandesh Kadur the opportunity of a lifetime. For the next year, Sandesh attempts to raise the cubs, doing everything their mother would have to teach them how to survive. No small tasks, given that these elusive cats occupy tree tops hundreds of feet high. Then, when the cats are ready, they are radio-collared and released into the northern jungle in India. Will his adopted family lead him into the secret lives of these mysterious big cats?
The Last Lions
Friday, December 16, 2011, at 8 p.m. ET/PT (Two-Hour Premiere)
According to The New York Times, The Last Lions is “one of the most urgent and certainly among the most beautifully shot documentaries to hit the big screen in recent memory.” Having just taken top honors at the Jackson Hole Film Festival film, this film now moves to TV to provide viewers a suspense-filled tale of a determined lioness ready to try anything — and willing to risk everything — to keep her family alive. Explorers-in-Residence Dereck and Beverly Joubert follow the epic journey of a lioness named Ma di Tau (“Mother of Lions”) as she battles to protect her cubs against a daunting onslaught of enemies in a desperate attempt to ensure their survival.
Nat Geo WILD’s Big Cat Week shows, apps and books are available on the iTunes store at iTunes.com/BigCats. For additional programming information, please visit www.natgeowild.com. For Big Cats Initiative information, please visit www.causeanuproar.org.
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NAT GEO WILD
For more than 30 years, National Geographic has been the leader in wildlife programming. Now the animal kingdom is taking center stage on a brand-new network, Nat Geo WILD. Offering intimate encounters with nature’s ferocious fighters and gentle creatures of land, sea and air, Nat Geo WILD and Nat Geo WILD HD will draw upon the cutting-edge work of the many explorers, filmmakers and scientists who have long-standing relationships with the National Geographic Society. Nat Geo WILD is a joint venture between Fox Cable Networks (FCN) and National Geographic Ventures (NGV) ― the same partnership behind the National Geographic Channel (NGC), which launched January 2001 and has since been one the most successful new networks on the landscape. Nat Geo WILD launched globally more than three years ago and is the fastest growing channel among the international portfolio of National Geographic networks.