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S37 Ep5

Dogs in the Land of Lions

Premiere: 11/21/2018 | 00:00:35 |

Follow the unforgettable journey of a close-knit family of wild dogs in Zimbabwe and witness rarely seen behavior, from tender moments with newborn pups, to the thrills of hunting wildebeest, to close encounters with their greatest enemy - the lion.

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About the Episode

Filmed over two years by cinematographer Kim Wolhuter (Nature: The Cheetah Children), Nature: Dogs in the Land of Lions takes viewers into the heart of an African wild dog family. When lions kill her mate, a wild dog mother called Puzzles suddenly must raise two generations of pups all on her own without the help of a pack. Witness the loyalty and selflessness that sets wild dogs apart from other large, social carnivores in this deeply intimate portrayal of motherhood. But in this unforgiving Zimbabwe wilderness, it turns out the top dogs are the big cats – lions are the wild dogs’ ultimate enemies. The young dogs provide some light-hearted moments while discovering the world around them, but as they grow up, they must face these eternal enemies on their journey to independence.

Noteworthy Facts:

  • The African wild dog population in the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in Zimbabwe has been devastated by a rabies epidemic in recent years. Puzzles and her partner Jigsaw are one of only about 700 breeding pairs alive today.
  • Lions in the reserve will go out of their way to kill wild dogs because they both hunt the same animals. The dogs’ only defense is to avoid lions at all times.
  • Few things provide as much family entertainment as hyena hazing. Although rivals for one another’s kills, dogs enjoy hounding hyenas whenever they get a chance. The hyenas seem to grin and bear it.
  • Wild dogs can reach up to 40 miles an hour while running and hunting.
  • Setting wild dogs apart from other carnivores is their willingness to sacrifice almost anything for their pack, a behavior wired into their DNA.

Buzzworthy Moments:

  • In the beginning, an African wild dog mother named Puzzles must care for her nine young pups. Her partner Jigsaw must do the hunting for the family while Puzzles weans the pups. After a year, they have another dozen children. Nursing these pups triples her required calorie intake, but she can’t hunt while tethered to the den. Older sisters Dakota and Atom also try to help look after the newborns. Puzzle’s survival and that of her tiny pups rests solely on Jigsaw and their older litter’s ability to provide food for the family.
  • One early hunting trip ends in devastation. Noticing that Jigsaw and Atom do not return to the den, Puzzles leaves for the first time in months to search for them. She finds them close by, dead from a lion attack. Puzzles must now raise 20 puppies on her own.
  • To increase the litter’s chances for survival, Puzzles takes her family to a safer part of the reserve. Most of the young pups become too exhausted during the journey, so Puzzles must carry them one by one to their new home. The older pups start to hunt on their own, led by eldest brother Jet.
  • Eventually, the pups are old enough to leave the den. As they cross the wilderness over the next few months, the pups learn more about their environment and discover new creatures, including elephants, giraffes, and impala. They continue to hunt successfully and even manage to snag a wildebeest calf. Puzzles has done the impossible – she has raised nearly all of her offspring into a thriving pack.
  • A year after the lions killed Jigsaw, his loss still affects Puzzles. A chance for revenge comes one day when the dogs encounter a fresh carcass. A few lions are feasting, however the pack decides to chance stealing this kill. Their boldness outrages the lions but the big cats are outnumbered by the large family. Puzzles and her young army stand their ground and enjoy a rare victory against their greatest enemy.
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Narrated by
TOM HARGES

Producers
ADRIAN BAILEY
KIM WOLHUTER

Director & Writer
ROBYN KEENE-YOUNG

Editor
ADRIAN BAILEY

Cinematographer
KIM WOLHUTER

Original Music
BLEEDING FINGERS MUSIC

Sound Recordists
KIM WOLHUTER
DEREK SOLOMON

Assistant Camera
MARK VAN DER MERWE

Sound Design
ADRIAN BAILEY

Sound Editor
TIM OWENS

Dubbing Mixer
PETER DAVIES

Online Editor & Colorist
GRAHAM COOKE

Scientific Consultant
J. WELDON MCNUTT

Special Thanks
MALILANGWE WILDLIFE RESERVE

For NATURE

Series Editor
JANET HESS

Senior Producer
LAURA METZGER LYNCH

Coordinating Producer
JAYNE JUN

Associate Producer
JAMES F. BURKE

Legal Counsel
BLANCHE ROBERTSON

Digital Producer
HEATHER TONER

Social Media Editor
KAREN HO

Audience Engagement
CHELSEY SAATKAMP

Budget Controller
JAYNE LISI

Online Editor
STACEY DOUGLASS MOVERLEY
CHRIS GUIDO

Re-Recording Mixer
JON BERMAN

Original Funding Provided in Part by
The Arnhold Family In Memory Of Clarisse Arnhold
Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III
Kate W. Cassidy Foundation
Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust
Kathy Chiao and Ken Hao
Anderson Family Fund
Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation
Rosalind P. Walter
The Halmi Family in memory of Robert Halmi, Sr.
Sandra Atlas Bass
The Sun Hill Family Foundation
Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Series Producer
BILL MURPHY

Executive Producer
FRED KAUFMAN

A PRODUCTION OF HAT CREEK PRODUCTIONS, MAVELA MEDIA AND THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC FOR WNET, IN ASSOCIATION WITH TERRA MATER FACTUAL STUDIOS

This program was produced by THIRTEEN Productions LLC, which is solely responsible for its content

© 2018 HAT CREEK PRODUCTIONS (PTY) LTD AND THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED