What’s cuter than frolicking puppies? Little pups taking on the Super Bowl, of course. On February 7, before Super Bowl 50 kicks off at Levi’s Stadium (home of the San Francisco 49ers) in Santa Clara, Calif., tune into the irresistibly adorable Puppy Bowl XII on Animal Planet from 3 to 5 PM ET/PT.
A roster of 84 adoptable puppies from 44 rescues will romp to victory when Team Ruff faces off against Team Fluff in this squeak-toy-filled extravaganza. For the inside scoop on the cuteness, we spoke to Melinda Toporoff, executive producer of Puppy Bowl XII.
While NFL players are drafted out of college, the players in the Puppy Bowl are scouted even younger. “We often start casting the puppies months in advance, right when they’re born,” said Toporoff. “We have rescues across the country submit casting sheets with a picture of the puppy next to a soda can for perspective.”
Hosted at GEICO Stadium, more than 90 hours of frolicking puppy footage is captured over two days of advance filming before being edited down to a two-hour special that’s aired on Super Bowl Sunday. And the puppies aren’t the only ones getting in on the action with this year’s addition of five Silkie chicken cheerleaders. The halftime show stars a host of cuddly kittens stomping around a miniature San Francisco (including “Al-Cat-Raz”). A menagerie of different animals means a lot of work. But the folks at the Puppy Bowl are up to the task.
“We’re careful to film each species at different times throughout the day and clean the field after each group,” explains Toporoff. “As always, a representative from the American Humane Association was on set during play to ensure safety. A veterinarian was also on set to examine each animal before they took the field.”
“Rufferee” Dan Schachner keeps the puppy players in line and out of trouble, intercepting any Pomeranian penalties or terrier takedowns. This year, warm up for game day by watching four puppy practice scrimmages on your smartphone or desktop thanks to the introduction of PUPPY BOWL VIRTUAL REALITY. Now, for the first time, viewers can watch the plays from a ref’s point of view.
“Puppy Bowl Virtual Reality invites viewers onto the turf to rumble up close and personal with this year’s puppy players for a full 360° experience,” says Toporoff. “Fans can join the action on the 50-yard-line for an interactive tour of GEICO Stadium amongst puppies, chew toys and assistant coaches.”
Prior to the big day, fans can draft their own fantasy fluffball team on the Animal Planet website. On game day, follow sideline reporter Meep the Bird (@meepthebird) on Twitter to get the inside scoop with live tweets.
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