Animal Planet Launching Documentary Feature Franchise (Exclusive)

Million Dollar Duck - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of Animal Planet

Animal Planet is putting a spotlight on documentary features.

The cable channel is set to launch Animal Planet Presents, a new franchise "featuring the best of blue-chip documentary and documentary film content" that will explore "a wide range of topics which provide a unique lens on the world we share with our animal counterparts."

The franchise kicks off at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Tuesday, April 26, with the special Life After: Chernobyl, taking a look at fallout from the nuclear catastrophe 30 years later. The doc features biologist Rob Nelson and anthropologist Mary-Ann Ochota, the first scientists to have been granted unlimited access to all areas surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, as they investigate how the environment and wildlife have been affected. 

"Animal Planet Presents will be a showcase for world-class documentaries that epitomize the very essence of Animal Planet's DNA," said Rich Ross, group president for Discovery, Animal Planet and Science Channel. "Viewers will find hugely thought-provoking and entertaining storytelling that emerges from the fascinating intersection of the animal, human and natural worlds."

Animal Planet Presents will include the docu-specials Million Dollar Duck and I Bought a Rainforest. Duck, winner of the jury and audience awards for best documentary at the 2016 Slamdance Film Festival, centers on the "eccentric world" of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest, which is the only juried art competition run by the U.S. government. Duck follows six wildlife artists striving to win what has been dubbed "the Olympics of wildlife art."

Rainforest, meanwhile, revolves around the efforts of professional wildlife cameraman Charlie Hamilton James, whose love of animals takes him to remote destinations. Wanting to preserve a part of a delicate ecosystem that is being destroyed, Hamilton buys 100 acres of the Amazon rainforest sight unseen and now must contend with the illegal loggers, miners and cattle ranchers whose livelihood is ravaging the forest as he puts his own life at risk.

Duck is directed by Brian Golden Davis and executive produced by Oscar winner Mark Jonathan Harris and Richard Prager. The team also includes editor Derek Boonstra, cinematographer Christian Bruno and co-producers Laura Young Lee and Kye Woo Lee.

Life After: Chernobyl is produced for Animal Planet by STV Productions, with Anne Laking executive producing, while Rainforest is produced for the network by Hat Trick International Limited. Erin Wanner is the executive producer for both, and Krishna San Nicolas is the producer for Animal Planet.