The jungles of the sacred city of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka are home to 33 identified troops of toque macaques and one man. This is the extraordinary story of Dr. Wolfgang Dittus, a scientist from the Smithsonian Institution who, over decades, has tracked and documented the lives of thousands of monkeys, revealing a complex society that is in many ways like our own. His journey is captured through his own words, footage he's taken over the course of 50 years, and his interactions with the scrappy, cheeky monkeys he's dedicated his life to.
The rains are late. It is the most brutal time of year. Babies born into drought face starvation. The weak and the injured are weeded out. Everything is desperate for rain. When it finally arrives, it is a downpour on an enormous scale. Alien creatures emerge into a different world. The wet season begins.
At the southern tip of Africa, where two oceans collide, the flat-topped Table Mountain stands guard over a diverse metropolis of cultures and people. Take flight over the Western Cape and discover the breathtaking wonder of this province from above.
Watch as birds solve puzzles and challenge our basic notions of intelligence. Call somebody a “bird brain,” and you’re not delivering them a compliment. But as NOVA shows, birds turn out to have advanced problem-solving skills that we usually assume are unique to humans. Watch astonishing tests of avian aptitude: parrots that can plan for the future, jackdaws that can “read” human faces, and crows that can solve multi-step puzzles with tools like pebbles, sticks, and hooks. Could these just be clever tricks based on instinct or triggered by subtle cues from their human handlers? To rule out any doubts, NOVA puts feathered Einsteins through their paces and reveals skills that even three- or four-year-old children have a hard time mastering—such as putting off one reward now to get a bigger one later. From this revolution in thinking about our feathered friends, the conclusion seems irresistible that bird brains see the world in ways that aren’t so different from our own.
With the arrival of spring, days grow longer and temperatures rise. But spring in Alaska is short. Animals have two months to feed, and start a family, while avoiding predators. Spring is also the time that millions of birds return to Alaska.
In Ruaha, Tanzania, lions form huge super prides in order to hunt giants. Amongst cats lions are unusual, the only one to live in groups. In numbers they find the strength and audacity to hunt the most formidable prey. In Sri Lanka a tiny rusty-spotted cat explores his forest home - 200 times smaller than a lion, the rusty-spotted is the smallest of all cats, but just as curious. The Canada lynx lives further north than any cat, relying on snowshoe hares to survive the bitterly cold winters. Until now, lynx were creatures of mystery, but now technology provides an insight into their secret lives.