‘Animal Reunions’ Hitting PBS March 30th Will Melt Your Heart

If you’re a fan of animal clips that circulate the internet, or know anyone who is, you’ve caught a few clips of animal reunions, especially one that features Dr. Jane Goodall.

Now you’re going to get a chance to get the full story surrounding some of these reunions as Thirteen’s Nature brings Animal Reunions to PBS.

The show puts together several stories, with interviews and reunion footage, of the people who have rescued, raised, and/or bonded with animals that are now in the wild, and their journeys to discover what happens when they reunite with the animals.

As the views on some of these videos that have circulated will attest, the idea is fascinating, and getting a deeper exploration is something that you’re going to want to catch.

Catch a clip below of the elephant-centric part of the show, which includes the cutest tucking in of an elephant you’re ever going to see, and full info on the show.

Animal Reunions airs March 30th 8/9c on PBS.

 

Animal Reunions Clip


Animal Reunions on PBS Dr. Jane Goodall

courtesy Tigress Productions

 

 

THIRTEEN’s Nature Explores the Power of Relationships Between People and Wild Animals on Animal Reunions Wednesday, March 30, 2016 on PBS

Richard Thomas narrates stories of caregiver-animal reconnections

What happens when people are reunited with the wild animals with which they forged a deep bond years ago? Will these gorillas, elephants, cheetahs and chimpanzees still recognize their human caregivers and how will they react? That is the premise of this program which also raises the question whether wild creatures can really experience emotions like joy, devotion, and love. It’s a debate that many animal lovers are convinced is true and the scientific community is beginning to accept.

Animal Reunions — narrated by actor Richard Thomas — contains interviews with scientists, authors, and caregivers including scenes of their journeys to reconnect with their former wild charges. The film airs Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). After the broadcast, the episode will be available for online streaming at pbs.org/nature.

The filmmakers introduce Damian Aspinall, a millionaire entrepreneur and conservationist, who now runs the family animal sanctuary in England called Howletts Wildlife Park. Aspinall views the animals in his care as friends and believes he gains a gorilla’s trust in the same way he would a human’s, by treating it with kindness and as an equal. Despite his attachment, Aspinall believes animals have a right to live in the wild if protected, so the program follows the journey of seven captive-born gorillas to a West African national park. The story is revisited five years later when Aspinall arrives to try and find Kwibi, one of the male gorillas.

Likewise, wildlife cameraman Kim Wolhuter says he had to establish trust with a cheetah to develop a bond with the fastest mammal on earth. It took 18 months, but his persistence paid off until she disappeared one day prompting Wolhuter to set out to find her. Another segment profiles Dr. Rebeca Atencia, a vet who cares for sick and orphaned chimpanzees with the aim of returning them to the wild. She attempts to reunite with a female chimp named Kudia, with whom she formed a maternal bond, two years after the latter’s release in Congo’s wild forests. The film also covers the reunion of former head keeper Edwin Lusichi, who spent 16 years rehabilitating orphaned elephants, with two of his favorites now in the process of beginning their reintroduction into the wild.

Animal Reunions includes the insights of several experts such as noted ethologist Dr. Jane Goodall who maintains it was crucial for her to establish a trusting relationship with wild chimpanzees or she wouldn’t have been able to observe them. Her long-term studies led to a new way of thinking about the emotional capacities of animals. In a touching sequence, a chimp initiates a long hug with her when being released into the wild, but Goodall admits she still doesn’t know what motivated the primate. Marc Bekoff PhD (My Bionic Pet, Animal Odd Couples), Professor Emeritus, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, agrees with Goodall, but believes the chimp’s gesture is clearly “an indication of an incredible bond.” Science writer and author Virginia Morell comments that we humans “want to know what animals think and feel” and the information gleaned from these animal reunions is a step towards trying to answer these questions.

Animal Reunions on PBS

courtesy Tigress Productions

Animal Reunions on PBS

courtesy Tigress Productions

 


 

Written by
Marc Eastman is the owner and operator of Are You Screening? and has been writing film reviews for over a decade, and several branches of the internet's film review world have seen his name. He is also a member of The Broadcast Film Critics Association and The Broadcast Television Journalists Association.

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