Cable network Animal Planet announced its most ambitious foray into reality-TV programming yet Monday with The Zoo, a weekly, hourlong show in which members of a diverse, all-animal cast square off in a single 3,200-square-foot home in the San Fernando Valley.
"Sparks—and fur—are sure to fly when animals from 11 different ecosystems share a single row house in trendy Echo Park," executive producer Stu Wolchek said. "For many of these wild, colorful, and totally unpredictable cast members, it's the first time they've ever seen a bison or sloth."
Wolchek added: "Some of these guys have never even lived under a roof."
According to the show's creator, former zoo director Loren De Jong, over 80 different species were auditioned to find the right mix of personalities. In addition to the red bear, African cheetah, hawk, and antelope, the house is occupied by an American bison, a field mouse, an Egyptian plover, a three-toed sloth, a goose, a crocodile, and a female lowland gorilla who is "very territorial of the bathroom."
De Jong said the show's contestants begin forming alliances on the first day.
"We see an immediate alliance develop between the lowland gorilla and the bison, who work together to smash a hole through a wall," De Jong said.
"While the bear and crocodile are the first to assert themselves in the house, folks at home shouldn't forget the dark horse: the field mouse, who might just fly under the radar all the way to the finals," she added.
TV Guide writer Rebecca Kohler is one of the few to have viewed the pilot.
"It's impossible to pick a winner this early on," Kohler said. "The gorilla is clearly the game's strategist. At the same time, nothing happens in the house that the hawk doesn't see. And I wouldn't put it past the crocodile to eat his own young if it meant getting ahead." Kohler said that the animal most likely to face early eviction is the sloth, who "seems to lack the ambition necessary to go all the way."
The cast will compete in weekly immunity and reward challenges, with prizes comprising such creature comforts as straw, mud puddles, and tree trunks. The latter is much-desired for itch-relieving, horn-sharpening, and territory-marking alike.
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Of course, if the show were really to launch, how would we ever understand what the animals were saying? No worries, there's an app for that. Check out Google Translate for Animals below: