WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--For millions of years, big cats have stood atop the food chain as treasured icons of the wild. We have a deep, ancient connection with these revered predators. We admire them; we fear them; and now, we need to fight for them. Today, big cats such as lions, cheetahs, leopards and cougars are in decline across the globe. Nat Geo WILD’s seventh annual Big Cat Week has turned its lens on these majestic animals to shine a light on their struggle and to remind viewers of their importance in the world.
This year’s ferocious lineup kicks off with the premiere of Battle for the Pride on Monday, Feb. 20, at 9/8c. Discover what it takes for a lion to become king in the wilds of Botswana, where only one in eight male lions makes it to adulthood. Additionally, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 10/9c, National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence and renowned filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert present Soul of the Cat, in which they explore the deep connections and parallels between domestic cats and big cats. From pet tabbies to great lions, cats of all sizes are predators in their own right.
Other premieres include Storm Cats on Monday, Feb. 20, at 10/9c, which follows the lives of two generations of big cats — lions and cheetahs — during the fleeting wet season in arid Botswana, and Jaguar: Supercat on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 9/8c, takes a closer look at South America’s supreme predator with narration by Sir David Attenborough. The week ends with Disneynature’s African Cats, with narrator Samuel L. Jackson telling a tale about the majestic kings of the savannah. See the full premiere schedule below.
More than a television event, Big Cat Week is an extension of the Big Cats Initiative, a long-term commitment by the National Geographic Society to halt the decline of big cats in the wild . This global initiative actively supports on-the-ground research and conservation projects to protect the planet's top felines . For more information on the Big Cats Initiative and how you can get involved, visit NatGeoBigCats.org.
“We have reached a critical moment in the fight to save big cats,” said Boone Smith, big cat tracker, biologist and conservationist. “These animals are in decline and if nothing is done to protect them, then we are facing a loss of some of the most incredible species on the planet. Big Cat Week is important because it represents hope for and sheds light on an important cause. The fight to save these species is an uphill battle, but we still have time to win.”
Big Cat Week Premieres:
Battle for the Pride
Monday, Feb. 20, at 9/8c
Follow a pride in Botswana to discover the brutal realities of family life for lions. As few as one in five cubs live to two years old and it takes them years to develop the abilities needed to become an apex predator. Watch as the cubs learn from their family, mastering the expert skills needed to stay on top and practicing their killer tactics on prey. Find out who will become a lion king.
Monday, Feb. 20, at 10/9c
Africa’s big cats lead a predictable life — they are masters of the dry terrain. However, for eight intense weeks, violent storms transform their world, shattering their routine. Storm Cats follows the lives of two generations of big cats during the fleeting wet season in arid Botswana. It is an intimate portrayal of lion and cheetah families pushed to the edge by nature’s raw power. Only those that can adapt will survive.
Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 9/8c
Jaguars are South America’s supreme predator, but they’re also one of the most elusive animals on the planet. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, Jaguar: Supercat follows a pioneering team in Brazil as it tracks and follows individual wild jaguars to gain amazing new insights into their lives.
Ultimate Rivals: Cat. vs. Dog
Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 9/8c
In Ultimate Rivals: Cat vs. Dog, the competition for survival unfolds in the plains of southern Africa. Both cats and dogs bring their own unique arsenal of weapons and tactics to the playing field, yet it is not just a “cat eat dog” world in the grasslands. Lions eat cheetahs; jackals eat lion cubs; hyenas eat whatever they can get their paws on. In this competitive landscape, showdowns can be deadly, yet each species has managed to carve out its own unique existence.
Soul of the Cat
Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 10/9c
Produced by National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence and world-renowned filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert, Soul of the Cat looks at the parallels between domestic cats and their wild cousins. From pet tabbies to great lions, cats of all sizes are natural-born killers. Soul of the Cat explores the origins and deep connections between cats of all sizes.
Kings of the Kill
Thursday, Feb. 23, at 9/8c
In Africa’s Serengeti, lions, leopards and cheetahs employ different hunting techniques to catch and kill their prey. Leopards exercise stealth, cheetahs unleash incredible speed but lions have the greatest hunting advantage of all — the strength of a pride. But even lions have enemies, and one lion dynasty must defend its kingdom against a deadly foe.
Friday, Feb. 24, at 9/8c
Disneynature’s African Cats captures the real-life love, humor and determination of the majestic kings of the savanna. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the story features an endearing lion cub, a fearless cheetah and a proud leader of a lion pride who must defend his family from a rival lion and his sons.
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