Nature takes a look at some of the animal kingdom’s most unlikely friendships, NOVA recreates the ancient techniques of the Roman Colosseum and Earth A New Wild ventures deep into the world’s forests for the Feb. 11 Science Night.
A tiger cub with no mother in sight. A baby hippo. An abandoned meerkat pup. Without nurturing, these infants face certain death. Enter stories of the most unlikely cross-species relationships imaginable: a chimp bottle-feeding a tiger cub; a giant tortoise snuggling a baby hippo; a black crow parenting a meerkat. Aberrations of nature? Instincts gone awry? Does this kind of bonding form only when animals are removed from their natural environments? Or are they evidence of a broad array of emotions among animals? This film will look at these remarkable relationships firsthand, and through caregivers, biologists and animal behaviorists, explore what they suggest about the nature of animal emotions.
The Colosseum is a monument to Roman imperial power and cruelty. Its graceful lines and harmonious proportions concealed a highly efficient design and advanced construction methods that made hundreds of arches out of 100,000 tons of stone. In its elliptical arena, tens of thousands of gladiators, slaves, prisoners and wild animals met their deaths. Ancient texts report lions and elephants emerging from beneath the floor, as if by magic, to ravage gladiators and people condemned to death. Then, just as quickly, the Colosseum could be flooded with so much water that ships could engage in sea battles. Could these legends be true? Now, with access to one of the world’s most protected world heritage sites, archaeologists and engineers team up to re-create ancient Roman techniques to build a 25-foot lifting machine and trap-door system capable of releasing a wolf into the Colosseum’s arena for the first time in 1,500 years.
Journey deep into the great forests of Earth for a new way of looking at these wild places and the animals that live there. Sanjayan travels into an uncharted area of the Amazon that scientists believe is the most bio-diverse place on Earth. From there he follows unique animal behavior in Alaska’s Great Bear Rainforest and then meets the farmers in Portugal’s cork forests. Frightening elephant battles are exploding on the edge of the forest in Sumatra; in the Amazon, ancient remains are helping change our perception of how to value the world’s great forests.