Seven reasons I watch Animal Planet
But I always loved the domestic animals as well. Dogs and cats have always been a part of my life and I'm enriched by their presence in our world. What I didn't have when I was growing up was an Animal Planet exploring the world of animals from pets to deadly predators. From sentimental to educational to outright odd and scary, Animal Planet explores both the worlds of the wilds and the inner cities -- as long as there are animals involved. And, it's not just for kids.
Gallery: As seen on Animal Planet
Often when I'm channel surfing I end up hanging around Animal Planet, but there are some shows I'll deliberately seek out. I'm going to focus on them right here, right now.
1. Meerkat Manor is the ultimate reality show for those who enjoy real reality television. Oh, yes, it's a narrated show and if the meerkats involved could talk they might share an entirely different story. Cameras have been set up throughout the Kalahari Desert documenting the activities of a meerkat mob called the Whiskers. Each meerkat is given a name and regular viewers tend to grow attached to them in a sort of vicarious way.
The show can be unbelievably brutal at times, but the meerkats are delightfully entertaining and smart little creatures which make it all worthwhile. Mind you, they wouldn't make good pets. You'd be better off with a mere cat, not a meerkat.
2. Animal Precinct takes me far away from the Kalahari Desert and into New York City, a place with which I'm much more familiar. While they show horrible cases of folks who never should have animals (or children), many of the tails...er...tales on the show have happy endings with the abused or neglected animals returned to health and finding new homes. I fear that happy ending scenario probably isn't the norm.
Teaming with the ASCPA, the officers of Animal Precinct take on cases throughout the five boroughs of New York City. From neglected pets to wild animals in Central Park to black cowboys in Brooklyn and their ramshackle horse stables, the show has it all. As I watch it with my own rather spoiled 15-year-old cat I remind her how good she has it. After all, if those animal cops came to my door I could only be arrested for giving her too many cat toys and treats. An added bonus to watching this show is that I'll occasionally see one of its "stars" on the local news when an animal story hits the city. Yep, real reality once again.
3. The annual Puppy Bowl with Kitty Halftime is just plain old adorable and sweet. Despite all the hoopla about the Super Bowl, some of us just don't watch football. Yes, it's true, believe it or not. But each year on Super Bowl Sunday, I'll watch some of the Puppy Bowl...usually with the hopes of catching Kitty Halftime.
Oh, no -- there really isn't much of a plot to it at all and the game really doesn't abide by any rules, per se. But I'm talking puppies. I'm talking kittens. How can you resist watching them play? It's the kind of thing which just has you sitting and smiling as you watch. Now, you can't always say that for the game of football. Sure, you smile and perhaps jump for joy as your hometown wins, but there may be disappointment and possibly even anger if the hometown loses. Not so with Puppy Bowl! In this show, they're all winners and they surely beat Manning or Brady in the outright cuteness factor. This show is tops in the "aww, too cute" television.
4. Orangutan Island takes us out of America and into the wilds of Borneo. The show is similar to Meerkat Manor albeit with human interference. As with the meerkats, the orangutans are documented and each is given a name so the viewers tend to get attached. But unlike the meerkats, the orangutans on this show exist in this society due to man's intervention.
The orangutans are often targets of poachers and just plain mean people, as well as uniformed folks who think they're pet material. The ones featured on the show have been rescued and are put in a rather strange environment for the naturally solitary primate. They're segregated on an island together and form their own sort of society often doing things orangutans left to nature just don't do -- like the time the herbivores started eating fish.
Orangutan Island isn't as brutal for the most part as Meerkat Manor as humans interact with them, provide medical attention, and bring food on a regular basis. Even so, there is the occasional death of an orangutan beyond the control of the human intervention. But death is a part of the cycle. We all know that, right?
The show highlights the intelligence and ingenuity of the orangutans. They're definitely smart animals and their facial expressions really indicate something is going on in their minds. While the show is a bit of an adventure in anthropomorphism, it's not a far stretch as the orangutans show such human qualities. This one's a keeper for me although I really don't want an orangutan of my own. If I did, then the Animal Police would have a reason to come knocking at my door, eh?
5. The A-List can often be an amusing and educational half-hour even with its campy comedic commentary by various Z-List celebrities. Each show is a countdown list of a top ten topic ranging from best moms to biggest troublemakers and almost everything imaginable in between.
It's a fun little romp which encompasses all kinds of animals in its trials and tribulations. As I mentioned, the commentary tends to the campy and the corny, but the highlights of the animals (or insects at times) involved is certainly high quality and thought-provoking. Heck, they could probably make this show work without the humans chiming in. The list possibilities for the show are as infinite as the number of animals who exist or ever have existed on the planet, so I think The A-List will be with us for some time to come.
6. The Crocodile Hunter. Yes, Steve Irwin met a tragic end, but this show is still a staple of the new generation animal-related show and was responsible for giving Animal Planet its rise in popularity. Sure, there's Jeff Corwin and that dude in the hippopotamus suit on the Discovery Channel. But no one could ever beat the childlike excitement of Irwin, mates!
Steve's amazement, awe of the animal kingdom, and his way with the crocodiles and other dangerous animals made the show special. It was like letting a little boy in an adult costume go wild with nature. His exuberance and excitable boy attributes brought something unique to the show even if crocodiles might creep you out a bit. On a more adult level, Irwin did many laudable deeds for the animals themselves. Bindi will carry on and she's a sweetie, but there will always be a special spot in my heart for Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter.
7. Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. Yes, the show which mesmerized me and took me to worlds so far removed from my home when I was a child is here once again. Well, Marlin Perkins is long gone but show carries on with its latest home on Animal Planet. Always incredibly educational and filmed well, modern technology has breathed new life into the discoveries of nature.
There isn't an episode of this show without an amazing and breathtaking view of nature in the wilds. Once I turn to the show, I just can't stop watching no matter the locale or topic of the episode. What a joy it is that Wild Kingdom is still taking us through the world so many years after its inception! My childhood favorite nature show is entertaining and educating a new generation. How cool is that?
|None - don't watch Animal Planet||4 (1.8%)|
|Meerkat Manor||39 (17.6%)|
|Orangutan Island||20 (9.0%)|
|Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom||10 (4.5%)|
|The A-List||2 (0.9%)|
|The Crocodile Hunter||45 (20.3%)|
|Puppy Bowl (with Kitty Halftime!)||13 (5.9%)|
|Animal Precinct||20 (9.0%)|
|Corwin's Quest||10 (4.5%)|
|It's Me or the Dog||9 (4.1%)|
|Animal Cops (Detroit, Houston, San Francisco)||17 (7.7%)|
|Miami Animal Police||3 (1.4%)|
|Planet's Funniest Animals||11 (5.0%)|
|Planet's Best with Terri and Bindi||6 (2.7%)|
|Jane Goodall||2 (0.9%)|
|Other - tell us in comments!||7 (3.2%)|