Animal Planet Picks Up 14 New Series and Specials

River Monsters - TV Still: Jeremy holding a Red-Tailed Catfish. Araguaia River - 2010
Alex Parkinson/Discovery

The Discovery network also renews 12 series including "Whale Wars," "Animal Hoarding" and top-rated "River Monsters."

NEW YORK – Animal Planet announced 14 new series and specials as well as 12 returning series for the network’s most robust original slate yet.

Returning series for the 2011-12 season include Pit Bulls & Parolees, Whale Wars, River Monsters, the network’s top-rated series, and the controversial Confessions: Animal Hoarding. REVIEW: Animal Planet's Killer Outbreaks.

The network had its best audience delivery ever in 2010. And new series will continue to mine Animal Planet’s “Surprisingly Human” tagline, rolled out last year, by introducing viewers to the people behind the animals. Ned Bruha: Skunk Whisperer is about Tulsa, Oklahoma wildlife control expert Bruha, whom the network describes as “a cross between Ace Ventura and Crocodile Dundee.Rat Busters NYC centers on Jimmy Tallman and Michael Morales, the proprietors of Magic Exterminating. Swamp City chronicles the work of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Venom One unit, who are trained to deal with Florida’s dangerous wildlife (Africanized bees, Tegu lizards and dozens of species of snakes) while also administering life-saving anti-venoms. My Extreme Animal Phobia follows psychologist Dr. Robin Zaso as she helps patients overcome fear of animals. And Sweet Avenger centers on vegan bakery owner and animal lover Danielle Konya, who is converting carnivores one egg- and butter-less cupcake at a time.

“There are a lot of people who talk about changing things,” says Konya. “But there are few people who actually do.”

The series will focus on Konya’s Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based bakery, Vegan Treats, which she runs with the help of her mom (who she says is “not been 100 percent vegan — yet”) and her best friend.

“This is a woman who is not going to take no for an answer,” says Animal Planet president Marjorie Kaplan, adding that in their first meeting, Konya told her one of the people she most admires is Paul Watson, the founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the anti-whaling organization featured in Whale Wars.

“It’s the same desire to change the world, just different tools.”