Man vs. Beast
This reality challenge pits human contestants against real animals in feats of strength, speed, agility and appetite. American Humane was on set to monitor the use of the animals during production. The show has received the (AH) "No Animals Were Harmed…™" Seal of Approval.
- Starring: Steve Santagati, Michael Buffer, Shawn Crawford
- Director(s): Bob Levy
- Producer(s): LMNO Productions
- Screenwriter(s): Bill Paolantonio
- Distributor: Fox Broadcasting
- Rating: Acceptable
Featured Animal Action
Hot Dog! Grin and Bear It:
The first challenge is a hot dog eating contest between the world record holder, Takeru Kobayashi, and a Kodiak bear named Diamond. The bear's trailer was parked at the end of the platform that led to the eating table. The entire area was surrounded by hot wire and several trainers were on hand to cue the bear. At the start of the contest the bear was released from the trailer and walked to the platform where a pile of fifty 6-inch long hot dogs awaited him. Trainers verbally cued Diamond to put his front feet up onto the table and later to stay and show his teeth. Kobayashi was across the small arena at his own table with an identical stack of fifty hot dogs. The contest started when Diamond chose to eat his first hot dog, illustrating the derivation of the phrase, "Hungry like a Bear."
In this tug of war, the orangutan and the Sumo wrestler are on opposite platforms with a rope and a muddy pit between them. The orangutan was acclimated to the area and appeared unconcerned about the muddy area that was approximately 3 ½ feet deep, 10 feet wide and 30 feet long. The rope was tied around the waist of both contestants so that they utilized body weight and not merely arm strength in pulling. The orangutan was positioned on the platform and seated with her feet braced against an end board to anchor herself. Pre-production training introduced the animal to the game and she developed a possessive and powerful command of the rope. Since orangutans are inordinately strong, there was no doubt that the wrestler was more in danger of experiencing a mud bath than the animal.
The "Cheetah's" Race Against Leonard and Zack:
In this challenge, world class Olympic hopeful, Shawn Crawford, nicknamed the "cheetah", tests his speed against a giraffe named Leonard and a zebra named Zack. The race was held at a racetrack where the turf was prepared to accommodate the animals' footing. A special gated pen with outward swinging doors was made for the animals. The racing lanes were separated by pole fencing and measured 100 meters. Crawford raced twice; once against Leonard and then against Zack. A trainer led each animal into the pen, while a second trainer awaited the animal at the end of the run. In determining advantage, the question is whether four legs are better than two.
The Seal vs. the Chimp:
The traditional obstacle course used to train Army, Navy and Marine professionals was the setting for this race between a Navy Seal and a Chimpanzee. Two chimps, Jonah and Jacob, were prepped for several days prior to the actual contest and were familiar with the sequence and the obstacles involved. The course consisted of a wooden wall, rope climb, balance beam, netting wall, rope swing, crawl tunnel, wooden wall with a rope climb, and monkey bars. All of the obstacles were well-built and chimp-friendly. The chimp most comfortable and agile on the obstacles was chosen for the on-camera race. Trainers were on hand walking near the chimp and signaling encouragement from the finish line. Since many of these "obstacles" are actually behavioral enrichment to a chimp, it came down to a contest of competitive spirit and speed.
The Little People vs. the Elephant:
This unusual challenge had a team of powerful little people competing with an elephant to pull a DC-10, 75 feet to the finish line. Both the people and the elephant were prepped in pre-production to become familiar with the harnesses and the planes. The planes had the engines and some of the interior removed to lighten the weight and the tires over-inflated to give greater buoyancy. The harness for the elephant was synthetic and attached to a single hitch for pulling. During this prep period it was evident that the challengers needed to walk a very straight path to steer the planes safely. The trainer walked backwards in front of the elephant using a guide stick to keep the elephant focused and from veering left or right. The harnesses were rigged with a quick release mechanism for added safety. It only took the elephant a brief effort once she leaned forward and put her body weight into the initial pull to get the plane moving. The plane picked up momentum very quickly and the race was on.