Born Wild: The First Days of Life

Across the animal kingdom, some of the most essential lessons — and the most extreme challenges — occur in the first moments of life. From ostrich to orangutan, egg sac to live birth, infanticide to matricide, the diversity of behaviors between parent and progeny is as great as the diversity of life on our planet.

As animal parents struggle to help their young survive their first days in the wild, they face seemingly insurmountable odds.  Penguins travel literally the ends of the Earth to protect their infants, facing Antarctic blizzards while they incubate their eggs. Amaurobius spider mothers offer their own bodies for their newborns to feast on. Orangutan mothers face up to eight years of single parenthood raising their infants.

Understandably, the process of birthing and raising young is one of the most stressful experiences an animal can endure. And it is in these very trials that the most extraordinary glimpses of life in the wild come to light. This film premiered November 1, 2009.

Photo © Philippe Clement

  • kira kools

    love it i can wait to see the rest just got to love nature

  • Lola

    Black bear’s are so cuite.

  • Mark

    Please spare us such ridiculous programs on Nature. This has to be the most anthropomorphic drivel I’ve ever seen in a nature ‘documentary’! The narrator can’t resist applying her own (absolutely offtrack) thought processes to these wild horses. I suspect that the editing has been extremely biased to create a chronology that bears little resemblence to the true sequence of events. This is nature television at its worst!!!

  • Greg Dulles

    Will tune in to see the wild babies and such.

  • Mike


  • Ray

    Got to love the pbs nature show i look forward to it every sunday evening
    Mark, please spare us you’re ridiculous comments and feast your eyes on football!!!!

  • Catherine

    My Sunday nights ARE Nature on PBS. I am particularly looking forward to this episode. Black Bears – a symbol of this country! You know what, Mark? Watch TWO football games and leave the intelligent viewing to PBS ` Nature.

  • John

    These are informative programs, and the neat thing about them is if one wants to complain about them with scarcastic comments, all that person has to do is turn it off….but then…what would one have to complain about then? Everyone sees life and nature from their own perspective and who can say it is ‘wrong’? But then, there are those who think only their way of seeing things is right…tsk tsk.

  • Teacher Talk

    As a teacher of more than a few years, I’ve said many times that we could send every child home today with a $100 check, and we would have parents calling to COMPLAIN about that. There will be naysayers! Continue showing beautiful animals in nature. Thank you!

  • skwids



    Pronunciation: \ˌan(t)-thrə-pə-ˈmȯr-fik\
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Late Latin anthropomorphus of human form, from Greek anthrōpomorphos, from anthrōp- + -morphos -morphous
    Date: 1827
    1 : described or thought of as having a human form or human attributes
    2 : ascribing human characteristics to nonhuman things



  • ask

    how watch a full version?

  • n.t.

    (responding to “ask”) after it first airs tonight, pbs will have the dvds available for sale. so, if you’re not in the U.S. that prevents you from watching the program for free on TV tonight, you can purchase the dvds afterward.

  • david ball

    i am Going to Record nature born wild first days of life on tv toigh t how to watch a full verison i like nature verry verrry much

  • andrea evans

    I saw the first 10 minutes of the Nature show about baby animals tonight and then my tv went out for 2 hours or so. I couln’t believe this happened to me as I have been waiting to see this all week. Will it be on again and when and where can i get the DVD?? Please help! I really want to see this so much. Thank you kindly, andrea evans.

  • NATURE Online

    Hi Andrea – The episode will be available to watch online until November 8, 2009. You can also browse our selection of DVDs by clicking the “shop” button at the top of the site.

  • brenda1

    Wonderful opics thanks for sharing …. B

  • Andrea

    Superbly done; fantastic photography and editing.

  • cindy

    I am in agreement with skwids, Mark,if you know nothing of horses or if you do not like animals then you probally shouldn’t watch these types of programs.

  • Coryelle Kramer~Animal Communicator

    This show was absolutely amazing. I there are so many messages and things to learn from each animal that I would watch it over and over and not get tired of it.
    The animals have so much to show us about how they see life, and how to enjoy it. The cinematography was stunning. Thank you so much for making this show happen. I will be purchasing the DVD.

  • Mahesh Patel

    Anything about nature Iam watching on pbs every thing is super beautiful,there is no words to explaine.First thing God bless thouse people who is taking so much risk of their life for so long to do study. We are nobody to cretise this kind show. this is not easy job.Thanks to pbs and all the staff who made this kind show possible.

  • Elizabeth Reams

    Saw this last night – was moved the entire hour. What an incredible show. It was beautiful, emotional and so real. I felt as if I was there watching this. I give credit to the editor and DP for the shots they got while shooting this.

  • kimberly

    i was so scared for the cubs safety and caso that the male lion would let the cubs jion the pride

  • Mike

    Interesting! I hope that everyone enjoyed the recent holidays and has a happy and safe Cinco De Mayo. That goes for last year and all the other years.



  • Drew


    Does anyone recall the name of the kind of spider (that appeared within the first 5 minutes of this episode), the kind in which the mother lets her young eat her?

    Thanks for any help.

  • Jennifer

    Loved the Born Wild show on Nature last night! I am still haunted by some of the scenes that so wonderfully prove the rich emotional lives of animals: the expression on the momma lion’s face as she watched the new male tiger and her cub; the momma lemur torn between the conflicting desires to choose between her baby and herself. There’s of course increasing literature on emotions in animals (Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin is great), but this Born Wild documentary shows it wonderfully. Thanks for continuing the great Nature series!

  • Marcia Parker

    What a wonderful gift to mothers on Mothers’ Day (5/9/10). Are there videos made to purchase this program for gifts to grandchildren?

  • Jason

    Even God himself must have wept watching this most intimate and powerful portrait of the beauty of His creation.

  • Kristel

    Loved it! Especially the mouse family footage. I never new there was a species of mouse where the male not only played an active role in the birth as a ‘midwife’ but also helped care for the babies. I also never new that chamelions have live births as such.

    FYI Mark: If an animal has a limbic system, it experiences emotion. We are after all ‘hairless monkeys’. I have trained horses and have been lucky enough to have intimate experiences with these animals. Everything on this planet is our natural living relative and everything has ‘being’. To think we are seperate and unique is rediculous.

  • Linda

    This show should be kept online. It’s one of the best if not the BEST show ever published by Nature. It’s very educational.

  • Fallon

    The clip with the lemur mother exhibiting conscious choice and returning again and again to her abandoned baby was phenomenal. It reminded me of the abortion debate and the argument that “it doesn’t happen in nature”. Well, it wasn’t quite abortion, but the mother still made a choice between risking her own survival (and consequently that of the baby’s) and leaving the baby to die.

    I want to purchase the entire episode just for that clip.


    People like Mark, as noted above, are a pain in the hindparts. Nature is beautiful and is viewed by humans to give pleasure. I can’t help to think that with an attitude like Marks, he cannot receive or give pleasure. Pity, what a loss. God gave us nature for beauty. food, and warmth. Maybe Mark would be better off if he counted his blessings and not dwell on things he appears to think dribble. Hey Mark, turn you TV onto something more of your liking and not bother us with your opinion.

  • Pat

    The greatest disservice has been done to human society in not recognizing itself as a part of the animal kingdom that inhabits the earth, enough to prevent humans from assuming their rightful place as natural animals within the great scheme of reproduction for sustainable life. The misinterpretation of mankind has robbed men of their instinctive understanding of their role in the process (mostly, by distancing them from it), and burdened women by the fictional presumption that human infants do not need 24/7 maternal care – that it is possible to find substitutes willing and capable to undertake those essential duties.

    Until humans can recognize within themselves their instinctive role in the development of humanity, the world will continue to frustrate itself with lack of priorities sufficient to produce conflict, violence, and wars.

    Reproduction is and has always been rocket science, however brief the period might be for any particular couple. In failing to recognize that vulnerable period of reproductive beginnings and weaning processes, governments bring far greater harm to society and to commerce than is necessary. Making the decision for success should be a human prerogative of a free people with intellect and for general purpose – to provide the scheme within which both reproduction and production and management of resources are both valuable and idealistic, or face extinction.

  • Raed

    Saw it the other night, what an amazing program. Watching the penguins grieve was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. I have worked with higher primates on several occasions and have observed some truly amazing behaviors myself.

    Concur that Mark is a tool.

  • Dan R

    The primates in to boat, Mom paddling, was sorta jaw dropping.

  • Brock

    Can’t believe that no one arrested those elephants for child abuse. Couldn’t believe what I was seeing when that poor little guy kept getting pushed over or kicked in the face!

  • Catherine O’Kelly

    I, too, could not believe what I was seeing! It was heartbreaking to see the little elephant get kicked by the other elephants. It was even more heartbreaking to see the male lions invade a pride, wounding the dominate lion and driving him away, then killing the baby lions. The look in the mother lion’s eyes said it all. You could see the horror and the anger in her face. But the kicker was the little baby lemur, left to die alone, as the mother struggled with her decision to stay with her weak baby or hurry and join the departing pack. I’m 70 years old. I’ve always been very sensitive. I can only imagine how I would have reacted had I been exposed to REAL NATURE at a young impressionable age. Thank God, I wasn’t. Animals were warm and cuddly. They didn’t kill each other. We had no TV to see these terrible images. I’m writing this to ask parents, please don’t let your young children watch these shows. All the PBS nature shows seem to insist on including the violent side of nature. Thanks to improved technology, we can now hear the crunch of breaking bones, and hear the plaintive cries of an animal as it is being killed. Why the producers seem to think we NEED to see and hear the morbid details of nature in action, is something I would like explained. I think that this kind of programming desensitizes people, and this is one reason why we have soldiers killing civilians in wartime without any remorse. Or why people today accept homelessness as a “fact of life” instead of actually caring about it enough to try to change things. Or why we turn our backs on the poor. And why we treat animals with cruelty [factory farms, puppy mills, etc.] It is the Extreme Paradox that nature is beautiful and life is wonderful. There is beauty all around us, yet underneath it all, killing is constant. Thankfully, most of the time we forget the killing part, and can immerse ourselves in the beautiful peaceful side of Nature.

  • Jan

    I’m with you, Catherine. I was waiting for Masterpiece and caught the tail end of this show. I saw the cute lion cubs and then OMG did he just kill them?!!! I love nature, and I know it is harsh, but I really can’t take these shows. I so hope the photographers rescued the little lemur rather than let him die there. What would be the harm in that? I left a comment with the producers and maybe I’ll find out.

  • jo

    What a wonderful TRUE reflection of life. Life is living and dying, joy and sorrow. To keep our children from this reality is a great dis-service. Some choices in life are difficult to make and harder to understand why they were made. God’s creation is awsome and beyond the scope of man’s understanding. Thank you for this most moving look into Nature and the connection we, as humans, fit into it.

  • Jamie

    loved this show last night, watched it with my daughter who I really want to grow up knowing birth is normal and natural. she was with us when her brother was born at home and I don’t want her to forget.

  • Mohamed

    Judging by the initial comments made over a year ago, I’m a late bloomer in expressing my opinion. I first seen this episode tonight. It was fascinating learning the various parenting styles of the infinite species in the animal kingdom. The maternal spider allowing her young to eat her alive was disturbing and yet intriguing as was the idea that paternal lion males kill lion cubs if they neither recognize them as their own or when they pose a threat to them after the incoming males take over a pride of lions. I don’t subscribe to the assessment of animals by humans which is then followed by the condemnation of their behaviors, most of which is guided by their genes, but I just wanted to remark how engaged this episode stimulated me. I will definitely be making a contribution to PBS.

  • Victoria

    I caught just some of the show and had to turn the TV off because I just starting crying and crying (a loud wail) about the baby lemur. It was extremely upsetting to me and ruined what was starting out to be a wonderful and peaceful morning. I know nature can be beautiful AND cruel but sometimes I just need to take a break from reality. I’m sorry I turned the TV on. Lots of stress hormones just released into my system and now I need to decompress again. I hope to god that the producers were kind enough to save the baby lemur.

  • val

    Anyone know when the next “Born to be Wild” is to be showing on the nature chanell?

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  • Thad Borell

    JustTTTTTTT Sooooooo Sooooooooooo CutEE BabieS.I LovE TheM AllLLL…..

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  • Carmen Marye

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  • Mara

    I caught part of this program tonight in Houston and thought it was just heartbreaking to see the lemur leave her baby to die alone. Just dreadful. It made me cry and I’m still crying. I know it’s surely against policy for the crew filming this program to intervene in these things, but I hope to God that *someone* comforted the poor little thing in its last moments. Please tell me someone comforted it, even if you have to lie to me. :(

    I guess it’s a good thing I’m not involved in the filming of these kinds of programs. There is no way on earth I would’ve just stood by, with that poor baby lying on the ground like that.
    This is one cruel world.

  • Christie

    I liked the footage–it was beautiful and breathtaking! ‘Nature’ always astounds me with their amazing views of animal world around us :) God has created such beauty.

    However, I’ve got to agree with some of the comments here: the narration was annoying and definitely anthropomorphic where it did not need to be. Animals have their own mode of living and its beautiful…we don’t need to make judgements of their lives based on our current human societal norms. But hey, there’s a simple way to fix this problem….turn the sound off and enjoy :)…..J/k!

    Good to see fellow Nature enthusiasts :)! And I hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of a beautiful summer!

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