PBS’s Nature Seeks Some of the Planet’s Most Elusive Animals
This fall, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning Nature presents 13 new hours of programming featuring the wonders and fragility of our natural world.
Siberian Tiger Quest with Chris Morgan (Bears of the Last Frontier) will kick off Nature‘s 2012-2013 season on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). The film follows Morgan as he meets and learns from Korean cameraman Sooyong Park, who spent years tracking and filming wild Siberian tigers. Park’s unconventional methods included long months confined in a tiny pit at one location, and ensconced in a 4-foot hide in a tree elsewhere, while the weather outside was minus thirty degrees. Conditions were difficult but a bit less monastic for the production team working on Magic of the Snowy Owl. The cameraman shooting that film spent months in the Arctic, first in a small, stationary camouflaged hide and then in an improvised hide covered with woven grass that allowed him to follow an owl family as it moved off the nest and toward the coast – on foot. These and other episodes in the upcoming season exemplify the painstaking effort required to film in the wild, and to successfully document animal behavior in the middle of nature’s unpredictable surroundings. The result is a stunning collection of films on Nature detailing the lives of animals ranging from eels to zebras, told from the unique perspective of the filmmakers who got the shots. Brand new science and gorgeous displays of natural beauty will be on display all season long.
“We always strive to bring intelligent and thoughtful wildlife films to our audiences in fresh new ways,” said Fred Kaufman, series Executive Producer. “This season, we’ll delve into the subject of unlikely cross-species relationships in the animal kingdom. In a three-part special, we’ll honor Sir David Attenborough, a game changer in the natural history genre who has given us six decades of unparalleled work. And get ready to rethink the eel. Nature joins James Prosek, naturalist, artist and author, as he leads us on an adventure that demystifies one of the world’s most unusual and fascinating fish.”
Nature airs Wednesday nights on PBS. After broadcast, episodes will be viewable online at pbs.org/nature with in-depth web content.
New programs (all in working titles) in Nature‘s 2012-2013 season will include:
Siberian Tiger Quest – October 10, 2012
Chris Morgan has tracked large predators in some of the wildest and most remote places on earth. He now embarks on a challenge that will fulfill a lifelong dream — to find and film a Siberian tiger living wild and free in Russia’s far eastern forests. The film features the work of Korean cameraman Sooyong Park, the first individual ever to film Siberian tigers in the wild. Park spent years in the forest tracking and filming the world’s biggest cat. Park’s tracking technique was unconventional, but produced more than a thousand hours of wild tiger footage, and captured the saga of a Siberian tiger dynasty. Morgan spends time with Park, learning first hand just how hard it was for him to achieve his remarkable accomplishment.
Magic of the Snowy Owl – October 24, 2012
Nature takes an intimate look at the snowy owl, a bird made popular by Harry Potter’s faithful companion Hedwig. “Snowies” stand out for their magical beauty, intelligence and charm. Filmmakers take us deep into the owl’s tundra home on the North Slope of Alaska to observe the daily struggles involved in raising a family of helpless owlets until they are able to fly. Viewers will discover that these strikingly beautiful Arctic owls have a range of skills far more impressive than those required of magical messengers.
Animal Odd Couples – November 7, 2012
Despite the odds, there are countless stories of the most unlikely cross-species relationships imaginable; a goat guiding a blind horse; a doe who regularly visits her Great Dane surrogate mother, a juvenile gibbon choosing to live with a family of capuchins, and so on. Instincts gone awry? The subject has mystified scientists for years. Now, Nature investigates why animals form these special bonds. Informed by the observations of caregivers and noted scientists, Temple Grandin and Marc Bekoff, the film explores what these relationships suggest about the nature of animal emotions.
Ducks: Wings Over Water – November 14, 2012
Ducks fly through the air on short stubby wings – traveling in large, energy-efficient formations over thousands of miles. There are some 150 species of them, representing a wide variety of shapes, sizes and behaviors. Some are noisy and gregarious, others shy and elusive. They are familiar animals we think we know. But most of us don’t really know these phenomenal, sophisticated creatures at all. Our story follows a wood duck family as a male and female create a bond, migrate together across thousands of miles, nurture and protect a brood of chicks, then come full circle as they head to their wintering grounds.
Attenborough’s Life (3-part miniseries)
In honor of Sir David Attenborough’s 60th anniversary on television, this Nature special will focus on three fields that Attenborough feels have been transformed most profoundly: filmmaking, science and the environment. Richly illustrated with the sequences he has spent six decades capturing (re-mastered in HD), new interviews in which he revisits the content, stories and locations that were featured in his landmark series, and packed with the personal anecdotes of the BBC’s most accomplished raconteur, this series will be a singular synopsis of a unique half-century.
Wolves and Buffalo: Cold Warriors
For thousands of years, wolves hunted buffalo across the vast North American plains until the westward settlement of the continent saw the virtual extinction of these vast herds and their eternal predators. However, this ancient relationship was not lost altogether and continues uninterrupted in only one location – the northern edge of Canada’s central plains in a place named Wood Buffalo National Park. Today the descendants of those ancient buffalo and wolves still engage in the epic life and death dramas across this northern land. Their story is captured in thrilling cinematic glory by a lone filmmaker who has followed them for more than 20 years.
This is the story of the world-famous Lipizzaner stallions — from their origins in ancient times to the almost unknown drama of their rescue in 1945. The program begins at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, where the white stallions perform an impressive display of beauty and power that celebrates a perfect harmony between horse and rider, movements were originally intended for use in war. The Lipizzaner stallion was bred for its courage, strength and character. But the horse is also gentle, sensitive and responsive to praise.
Dark World of the Eel
Though much of the natural world is discovered and understood, a few great mysteries remain. Consider the eel: snakelike, slimy, with a row of jagged teeth. Aside from these fearsome qualities, we know little about its life — where it goes, what it does and how it dies. Hailed by poets as the “siren of the North Sea” and “love’s arrow on earth,” this shadowy creature has fascinated researchers for centuries. Now James Prosek, artist, writer and eminent naturalist, takes on the mystery of the eel, shedding light on the animal and the strange behavior it inspires in those who seek to know it.
Dust and Stripes
When thunderclouds begin to gather each year over Botswana’s Kalahari, 20,000 zebras get itchy feet. As the first fat raindrops hit the dust, southern Africa’s biggest animal migration gets underway. In a never-ending quest for grass and water, the striped herds undertake an annual epic trek across the vast landscape of the Kalahari’s Makgadikgadi Pans. Dust and Stripes tells the story of this spectacular annual migration through the eyes of the participants, documenting their journey across this otherworldly landscape, revealing their trials and triumphs as well as the fascinating social bonds that hold zebra families together.
The Secret Life of Deer
From our kitchen windows we spot them, nibbling away at our gardens and shrubs. They wander along our highways, reminders of the wilderness that we bisect each day. From coast to coast some 30 million white-tailed deer make their home in the United States. But once they retreat from our view, where do they go? Deer are the most highly-studied mammal in the world; but what does any typical homeowner with deer in the yard really know about them? Scientists outfit deer with night vision cameras and GPS tracking equipment that reveal the hidden world of white-tailed deer in a whole new light, allowing us to see them not as common backyard creatures, but as intelligent, affectionate family members.
Nature is a production of THIRTEEN for PBS in association with WNET, the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York’s public television stations and operator of NJTV. Fred Kaufman is the series executive producer.
For 50 years, THIRTEEN has been making the most of the rich resources and passionate people of New York and the world, reaching millions of people with on-air and online programming that celebrates arts and culture, offers insightful commentary on the news of the day, explores the worlds of science and nature, and invites students of all ages to have fun while learning.
Nature pioneered a television genre that is now widely emulated in the broadcast industry. Throughout its history, Nature has brought the natural world to millions of viewers. The series has been consistently among the most-watched primetime series on public television.
Nature has won more than 600 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities, and environmental organizations including 10 Emmys, three Peabodys and the first award given to a television program by the Sierra Club. The series received two of wildlife film industry’s highest honors: the Christopher Parsons Outstanding Achievement Award given by the Wildscreen Festival and the Grand Teton Award given by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. Recently, Fred Kaufman was named the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Media by the 2012 International Wildlife Film Festival.
PBS.org/nature is the award-winning web companion to Nature featuring streaming episodes, filmmaker interviews, teacher’s guides, and more.
Major corporate support for Nature is provided by Canon U.S.A., Inc. Additional support is provided by the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the nation’s public television stations.