Cecil the Lion's Death Casts Shadow on Nat Geo Wild Event

Brent Stapelkamp
Cecil the Lion with Brother Jericho

"It's our responsibility to do everything we can do bring attention to their plight."

Before Nat Geo Wild took over the stage at Wednesday's Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, network brass had already publicly denounced the killing of Cecil the lion. So, as the wild animal's murder at the hands of an American dentist continues to make headlines, it was little surprise that Cecil was the first subject of conversation.

"I can't start today without following back up on the headlines of the last 24 hours and that senseless killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe," said Geoff Daniels, Nat Geo Wild's exec vp and general manager.

Daniels then pointed to the dwindling number of big cats in the wild, a mere 32,000, and the parent organization's preservation efforts with the animals. "We've been involved in the Big Cats Initiative since the moment we launched five years ago," he added, "It's news like this that reminds me, and all of us, why we're here."

On the programming side, Nat Geo Wild also announced a day dedicated to lion programming — World Lion Day, fittingly enough, is Aug. 10— to keep attention on their plight after the attention around Cecil likely dwindles. (See the full schedule below.)

Cecil's death, and the public's outrage over the naming of Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer as the hunter who illegally killed him, has permeated pop culture this week — most notably prompting a teary-eyed Jimmy Kimmel to verbally eviscerate Palmer during his Tuesday monologue.

Before moving on, Daniels summed up the Cecil conversation by saying, "It's our responsibility to do everything we can do bring attention to their plight."

World Lion Day lineup

12 p.m. Lion Battle Zone
1 p.m. Lion Gangland
2 p.m. The Last Lions
4 p.m. Game of Lions
5 p.m. Killer Queen
6 p.m. Fight for Life: Lion Pride Takeover
7 p.m. Man v. Lion