What Has Happened to Animal Planet?

The cable TV network now relies on shows such as “Animal Cops” and “Animal Rescue” that film pets’ pain and suffering. It’s an ugly business plan.


I’m an Animal Planet junkie, and it’s usually a great channel:

  • Lots of animals are shown doing amazing things.
  • It’s fun and inspirational.
  • And yes, I am ridiculous enough to cry when one of the rescue dogs makes a daring escape while saving a child from flooding or an earthquake or hypothermia.

Recently, however, in what must be a way to sell more advertising, it appears that Animal Planet has taken on the same format as other television channels — as many train-wreck shows as possible.

The lineup this morning, for example, has been nonstop Animal Cops, Animal Rescue and other generic shows that I’m calling “Owners on Crack.”

It’s All About the Shock Value

Although I respect that a certain amount of coverage of animal cruelty and abuse will bring awareness of the issue, at a certain point it becomes gratuitous.

I’m sure Animal Planet has discovered, like other TV networks, that violence attracts more viewers.

Animal Planet makes the most of it by documenting the absolute worst cases of abuse. Starving, freezing dogs and cats are popular, along with an animal used for fighting. After that, animals with nearly incurable diseases brought on by neglect rank pretty high, then animals with behavioral problems.

In other words, whatever has the most shock value.

Profiting on the Suffering of Animals

I’m sure it is hard competing against Discovery Channel and National Geographic, which probably have huge budgets, but I’m getting bored of the reliance on shock value.

These shows are the Jerry Springer of the animal world. They capitalize on other beings’ suffering to rake in profits. They seek out animals in dire circumstances and film their pain.

It is an ugly way to run a business.

Sarah Blakemore

View posts by Sarah Blakemore
Sarah Blakemore has been researching and writing about pet care and pet behaviors since 2007. She has cared for many pets over the years and has volunteered with several animal shelters around the world.

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