Discover the evolutionary secrets of some of the world’s most majestic creatures. From voracious crocodiles and acrobatic birds to stupendous whales and majestic elephants, WHEN WHALES WALKED follows top scientists on a global adventure as they follow clues from the fossil record and change what we thought we knew about the evolution of iconic beasts.
In the thick of the jungle of Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, an infant mountain gorilla has been caught in a snare. If the rope is not removed quickly enough, the young gorilla could lose its hand. In order to remove the snare, a team of veterinarians will first need to sedate the infant's mother. But if the infant screams too much, the three 400-pound adult males that form part of this gorilla group will all attack. Everything must go perfectly, or there's no telling what could happen. And being jungle medicine, things rarely go perfectly. The pioneering group of vets performing this medical intervention is known as Gorilla Doctors. Led by Canadian Mike Cranfield, they work in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, where the world's last Mountain Gorillas can be found.
The Galapagos Islands are home to some animals that washed up on the islands millions of years ago and have made adaptations. Penguins, iguanas, tortoises and cormorants have changed so they can survive the harsh climate. But possibly the oddest adaptation is that of the Vampire finch.
Reptiles and amphibians look like hang-overs from the past. But they overcome their shortcomings through amazing innovation. The pebble toad turns into a rubber ball to roll and bounce from its enemies. Extreme slow-motion shows how a Jesus Christ lizard runs on water, and how a chameleon fires an extendible tongue at its prey with unfailing accuracy. The camera dives with a Niuean sea snake, which must breed on land but avoids predators by swimming to an air bubble at the end of an underwater tunnel. In a TV first, Komodo dragons hunt a huge water-buffalo, biting it to inject venom, then waiting for weeks until it dies. Ten dragons strip the carcass to the bone in four hours.
David Attenborough narrates the intimate story of a leopard mother and her two cubs. This very special family must survive in the wilds of Botswana alongside some less-than-friendly neighbours: lions, wild dogs and hyenas. The competition for food is tough, and if they are going to make it they must learn a new skill - they must learn to fish. This is an epic family drama. With them every step of the way is local cameraman Brad Bestelink. Brad's 18-month journey following the lives of these secretive big cats offers a rare glimpse into an otherwise hidden world.