Thanks to a recent remarkable discovery in the BBC's film vaults, the best of David Attenborough's early Zoo Quest adventures can now be seen as never before, in colour, and with it the remarkable story of how this pioneering television series was made. First broadcast in December 1954, Zoo Quest was one of the most popular television series of its time and launched the career of the young David Attenborough as a wildlife presenter. It completely changed how viewers saw the world, revealing wildlife and tribal communities that had never been filmed or even seen before. Broadcast ten years before colour television was seen in the UK, Zoo Quest was thought to have been filmed in black and white, until now. Using this extraordinary new-found colour film, together with new behind-the-scenes stories from David Attenborough and cameraman Charles Lagus, this special showcases the very best of Zoo Quest to West Africa, Zoo Quest to Guiana and Zoo Quest for a Dragon in stunning HD colour for the very first time.
The squirrel family is one of the most widespread on earth, so what is the secret to their success? There are squirrels that can glide through the air, outwit rattlesnakes and survive the coldest temperatures of any mammal. We uncover the extraordinary abilities of these cheeky characters, putting their problem solving to the test on a specially designed assault course. We team up with some of the world's top squirrel scientists who are making groundbreaking discoveries - from the fox squirrel who can remember the location of 9,000 nuts to the grey squirrel whose tree-top leaps are the basis of new designs in robotics. We also see the world through the eyes of an orphan red squirrel called Billy, as he grows up and develops all the skills he will need to be released back to the wild. It is time to meet the animal family we should never underestimate - the super squirrels.
David Attenborough tells the revealing story of this Caribbean island's exotic but vulnerable wildlife. A team of conservation champions are making it their mission to save the most precious species. We see how Puerto Rican parrots, manatees and turtles are now making a comeback.
What makes plants grow is a simple enough question, but the answer turns out to be one of the most complicated and fascinating stories in science and took over 300 years to unravel. Timothy Walker, director of the Oxford University Botanic Garden, reveals how the breakthroughs of Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, Chelsea gardener Phillip Miller and English naturalist John Ray created the science of botany. Between them these quirky, temperamental characters unlocked the mysteries of the plant kingdom and they began to glimpse a world where bigger, better and stronger plants could be created. Nurseryman Thomas Fairchild created the world's first artificial hybrid flower - an entirely new plant that didn't exist in nature. Today, botanists continue the search for new flowers, better crops and improved medicines to treat life-threatening diseases.
In this episode, Chris reveals how the world's most spectacular grasslands flourish, despite being short of one essential nutrient - nitrogen. As it turns out, the secret lies with the animals. There are the white rhinos of Kenya that create nitrogen hotspots by trimming and fertilising the grass. They are drawn to these particular points by communal toilets or 'fecal facebooks', where they meet and greet each other. In the whistling acacia grasslands of Kenya, Chris reveals the amazing relationships between termites, geckos, ants, monkeys and giraffes that make these places so rich in wildlife
Some animals have an extraordinary ability to find their way. The dung beetle, an insect revered by ancient Egyptians, uses the sun, the moon and even the Milky Way to move its prized ball of dung in the right direction. Pigeons are often considered feeble birdbrains, but they have incredible memories that can recall several complex travel routes with amazing accuracy and they even use man-made roads and hedgerows to find the quickest way home.
Welcome to an extreme landscape of rock, ice and snow. We tour the mightiest mountain ranges, starting with the birth of a mountain at one of the lowest places on Earth and ending at the summit of Everest. Find out how some of the most secretive animals rise to the challenge of mountain life. Share one of Earth's rarest phenomena, a lava lake that has been erupting for over 100 years. The same forces built the Simian Mountains where we find troops of gelada baboons nearly a thousand strong. In the Rockies, grizzlies build winter dens inside avalanche-prone slopes and climb the peaks to devour abundant summer moths. In another world first, the programme brings us astounding images of a snow leopard hunting on the Pakistan peaks.