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Animal Planet Sets Themed Nights

3/14/2005 9:35 AM Eastern

New York -- Looking to add more bite to its programming lineup, Animal Planet will unleash a pair of themed nights Sundays and Wednesdays and introduce a new daytime block in the months ahead.

The changes were announced Monday by Maureen Smith, the network’s executive vice president and general manager, at a press luncheon here previewing some of the upfront presentation that will be made to advertisers.

Mo Rocca will host “Whoa! Sunday,” a two-hour block from 8 p.m.-10 p.m. that will be home to family-friendly specials, beginning March 27 with Spy on the Wild. Upcoming premieres in the block include: Massive Nature, Crufts Dog Show, K9 Cops: Best in Nation and Jane Goodall: When Animals Talk.

Rocca, the former Daily Show with Jon Stewart correspondent, will supply interstitial segments and man-on-the-street interviews.

Bowing June 15, “Wild Wednesdays” will be the home to new series for Animal Planet. At 8 p.m., Buggin’ with Ruud will feature quirky entomologist Ruud Kleinpaste, the “bugman” who will bring viewers face-to-face with crawling creatures. In addition to absorbing bites, Kleinpaste will engage in various stunts and experiments.

In the following hour, Jeff Corwin’s Quest will showcase the popular host of Jeff Corwin Experience, presenting themed installments -- whether on animal camouflage, speed, or feeding habits -- from his journeys around the globe.

Come August, Animal Planet will introduce a daytime block entitled “Simple Pleasures,” initially comprising Doga, about a woman and her pooch who attend interspecies yoga classes; and Backyard Habitat, which, in conjunction with the National Wildlife Federation, shows watchers how to make a home for animals right outside their back doors.

On the special fronts, Smith talked up this upcoming Sunday’s computer-generated-imagery take on one of the world’s favorite mythical creatures in Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real, as well as Tsuami: Animal Instincts.

The latter, which will air on Animal Planet channels globally the weekend of April 23-24, compiles footage and stories about animal behavior prior to the disaster engulfing Sri Lanka and Thailand.