When is Animal Babies: First Year on Earth on TV?

Follow the young of our planet’s most iconic animals as they learn what it takes to survive in the wild.

Programme Name: Animal Babies: First Year on Earth - TX: n/a - Episode: FIRST STEPS (No. 1) - Picture Shows: All six animal babies in a grid together, Jazir, Safina, Fela, Bisque, Limpet, Nyakabara  - (C) BBC Studios - Photographer: BBC Studios

When is Animal Babies: First Year on Earth on TV?

The first instalment of this three-part series will be broadcast on BBC Two on Wednesday 24 July at 9pm.

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What is it about?

This series follows six adorable animals in their first year. But that’s not to say it’s all fun and games. The first year is one of the most difficult, and most dangerous. To survive, they must overcome the threats of predators, rivals and the elements.

Week old baby Africa elephant, Safina, falls over in the mud in Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Kenya. © BBC Studios
Week old baby Africa elephant, Safina, falls over in the mud in Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Kenya. © BBC Studios

We witness events through the eyes of three camera operators, who take us around the globe and show us the challenges facing the young of our most iconic species. A new-born elephant must learn how to walk and keep up with the herd, a baby sea otter dives for the very first time and twin hyena cubs must quickly realise their place in the pack.

12-week-old Spotted hyena cub, Chowder, explores around her den in the Mara Conservancy, Kenya. © Dominic Weston
12-week-old Spotted hyena cub, Chowder, explores around her den in the Mara Conservancy, Kenya. © Dominic Weston

There is exciting behind-the-scenes-style footage of our guides leaning out of 4WDs and rushing to set up their cameras. Even better, this is coupled with a wealth of information offered by the camera operators themselves, a narrator, and a series of experts interviewed along the way.

What happens in each episode?

Newborn baby Toque macaque, Jazir, clings to his mother just hours after birth in the ancient, abandoned capital of Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa. © BBC Studios
Newborn baby Toque macaque, Jazir, clings to his mother just hours after birth in the ancient, abandoned capital of Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa. © BBC Studios

Episode one, First Steps, looks at the first three critical months when animal babies have to rapidly get to grips with their new family and the challenges of the environment that surrounds them. Highlights include five-week old fox cubs learning to hunt in the Arctic, and Jazir, a one-week-old macaque, learning the ropes of a primate society.

Five-week-old southern sea otter pup, Limpet, is unable to swim yet, so takes a ride on his mother in Monterey Marina, California. © BBC Studios
Five-week-old southern sea otter pup, Limpet, is unable to swim yet, so takes a ride on his mother in Monterey Marina, California. © BBC Studios

Episode two, Testing Limits, stays with the babies throughout their first year. From around three months old they can get around on their own, but that means they begin to really the face the struggles of their environment and finding food. In California, Limpet, a three-month old sea otter, has to discover what’s safe to eat in a harbour filled with human activity.

Eight-week-old baby mountain gorilla, Nyakabara, held by her mother as she forages in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. She may be one of only 50 Mountain gorilla babies in the world. © BBC Studios
Eight-week-old baby mountain gorilla, Nyakabara, held by her mother as she forages in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. She may be one of only 50 Mountain gorilla babies in the world. © BBC Studios

Episode three, New Frontiers, takes us to the end of the six animal babies’ first year on earth. Now they must take on the most complex challenges of their lives. Nyakabara, a mountain gorilla infant, develops the co-ordination to roam free in the forest. And in Kenya, twin spotted hyenas must roam a territory they share with their biggest threat – lions.

Who are the three camera operators?

Sue Gibson filming in the Samburu/Buffalo Springs National Reserves, Kenya. © James Hemming
Sue Gibson filming in the Samburu/Buffalo Springs National Reserves, Kenya. © James Hemming

Sue Gibson has been in the wildlife filming industry for 15 years. Her family lived in Malawi for six years before she was born, so her home was full of interesting items that sparked her imagination and set her dreaming of visiting distant lands.

Since then she has filmed in desert extremes in Oman, tracked Pallas’s cats on the Mongolian Steppe, hung out with apex predators in the Maasai Mara, and filmed in some of the roughest seas around Cape Horn.

Vianet Djenguet filming in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. © Dominic Weston
Vianet Djenguet filming in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. © Dominic Weston

Vianet Djenguet is a documentary and wildlife cameraman with over 12 years of experience in filming for major international broadcasters.

He was born in the Republic of Congo and has worked in some of the world’s most remote and hostile environments, ranging from tropical and equatorial jungles, swamps, deserts, and mountainous regions to tropical islands.

Colin Stafford-Johnson filming on the coast of Monterey Bay, California. © John Gray
Colin Stafford-Johnson filming on the coast of Monterey Bay, California. © John Gray

Colin Stafford-Johnson spent his childhood exploring the woods, rivers and hills on the east coast of Ireland. As soon as he left school, he backpacked around the world for six years in search of the creatures he had read about as a child.

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After studying biology and film-making at university, he began an apprenticeship as a cameraman, and has been working in the industry ever since.