TV Critics Tour: Animal Planet Series Documents Anti-Whaling Efforts


Beverly Hills, Calif.—Animal Planet will document the anti-whaling activities of the controversial Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in Whale Wars, a seven-part series beginning in November.

Animal Planet executives said the series is not an endorsement of the group, which physically blocks Japanese scientific research vessels in the Antarctic and attacks them with tear gas and other projectiles. Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson said the vessels exploit a loophole in an international ban on whaling, taking the mammals under the guise of scientific research.

Producer Ashley Dunn said the series is more of a character study of the crew: the volunteers represent 14 countries and have given up other jobs to join the conservation effort.

Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson said the activities of his group are all about economics: he asserted that the confrontations with his boat and crew cost the Japanese vessel half of its whale kill quota for the season in 2007-2008.

If the group keeps up the pressure, the Japanese venture will cease to be self-sustaining and should be shut down by the company and the Japanese government, he asserted.

The organization does not leave the safety of whales to international regulators because international law is unenforceable, Watson told TV critics here.

Whale Wars is one of a half-dozen new original series which will debut in the next eight months, including Mr. and Mrs. Wolf, profiling British wolf expert Shaun Ellis and his experiences “embedded in a wolf pack;” The Grizzly Man Diaries, culled from the video left behind by the late Timothy Treadwell, who spent his summers in Alaska's Katmai National Park until he was killed by one of the bears he was chronicling; Creature, which will debut in the fall; and Jockeys, due in January.

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