Nat Geo WILD Celebrates 'Big Cat Week' with Special Programming, Calls to Action

Nat Geo WILD Celebrates 'Big Cat Week' with Special Programming, Calls to Action

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Celebrate BIG CAT WEEK with @NatGeoWILD, raising awareness and halting the decline of big cats: @21CF_Impact
Tuesday, December 8, 2015 - 7:00am

CAMPAIGN: Knowledge & Exploration at 21st Century Fox

CONTENT: Article

Beginning Friday, November 27, Nat Geo WILD presented its sixth annual Big Cat Week, a block of special programming dedicated to raising awareness of the threats facing the global populations of lions, tigers, cheetahs, panthers, and more. This year's Big Cat Week was the biggest in the channel's history, including the premieres of five brand new specials and three nights of live African safaris. The program also saw the return of the Cause an Uproar campaign, a call to action for those interested in supporting the National Geographic Society's conservation work with big cat populations. Nat Geo WILD is part of the Fox Networks Group, which is owned by 21st Century Fox.

"For five years, Big Cat Week has delighted family audiences around the world, inspiring them to help these magnificent creatures," said Geoff Daniels, general manager and executive vice president, Nat Geo WILD. "This year, we are giving our viewers a special treat: 10 days celebrating the best of WILD, including a one-of-a-kind interactive live safari experience, plus a feast of extraordinary and entertaining wildlife stories that take place from the depths of the oceans to the tops of our most majestic mountains."

Big Cat Week officially began on Friday, Nov. 27, at 9/8c with the premiere of Cougars Undercover, a groundbreaking special narrated by David Attenborough that follows the lives of two mountain lion families in northwest Wyoming. Over the course of the week, viewers were treated to additional specials and documentaries, including Safari Live, three nightly live specials following Graham and Emily Wallington's work with WildEarth at Kruger National Park in South Africa. Viewers could ask questions via Twitter, which the safari guides answered in real time.

"It's hugely exciting," said Pieter Pretorius, who has managed several online safaris for Nat Geo in the past. "We're opening up beautiful areas to potentially millions of people, and those people will form bonds with the environment because they're experiencing it in such a real way."

Big Cat Week began in 2010 as a means of raising awareness of National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative, a campaign launched in 2009 with Dereck and Beverly Joubert, filmmakaers, conservationists, and National Geographic explorers-in-residence. The Jouberts envisioned the project as an effort to halt the decline of big cats in the wild through assessment, education, and a global public awareness campaign called "Cause an Uproar," which was launched in partnership with Nat Geo WILD. Through viewer support, the Big Cats Initiative has funded more than 80 grants across 26 countries. The Cause an Uproar PSAs returned this year as a hallmark component of Big Cat Week, now featuring actress and activist Kate Walsh.

Also returning to Big Cat Week is veteran wildlife biologist Boone Smith, whose special Big Cat Games explored some of the top feline predators in the animal kingdom, including lions, tigers, and cheetahs. Smith's work has been highlighted in several films for Big Cat Week over the years, including American CougarHunt for the Shadow Cat, and Snow Leopard of Afghanistan.

Smith also visited P.S. 205 Fiorello Laguardia elementary school in the Bronx, New York, on Monday, Nov. 23, just ahead of Big Cat Week's Nov. 27 launch. Sharing clips of Big Cat Games, Smith took the students through the lives of these animals, as well as how he and other conservationists are working to halt their populations' decline. The event was Smith's third visit to the school in three years.

Following the conclusion of Big Cat Week, Nat Geo WILD debuted Wild Yellowstone, an innovative program that offers audiences some of Yellowstone National Park's most spectacular views and wildlife stories, which premiered Sunday, Dec. 6, at 9/8c. Wild Yellowstone kicked off a cross-network celebration of the centennial of America's national parks, which will continue on sister channel National Geographic Channel with eight hours of premiere park programming throughout 2016.

"It's our mission to deliver things like this experience... and transport people into areas we really want them to care about," Daniels said. "We're trying to get people to fall in love with animals and do a better job of taking care of them around the world."

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