Cynthia Chris, associate professor of media culture at the College of Staten Island and author of “Watching Wildlife” wrote “Part of a Balanced Diet” for The New York Times Room for Debate.

Excerpt:  Animal films and television shows have multiplied like rabbits, thanks to proliferating cable channels and the Internet. There’s not only more but also more varied content. And it’s not just lush footage and an edifying voice-over anymore. Now classic wildlife programming is joined by reality-based programming, much of it featuring pets, which is relatively inexpensive to produce and more advertiser-friendly. It may be harder to place ads for gas-guzzling cars, electronics, plastics or fast food alongside landscapes impacted by habitat loss, pollution or overfishing. So nature and wildlife occupy a commercially fragile niche. (To wit, Discovery’s Planet Green, started in 2008 to feature ecology and environment-related programming, is being rebranded as Destination America, with a focus on travel and adventure.)

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