This globe-circling look at family life in the animal kingdom homes in on five highly endangered species: lions (Kenya), emperor penguins (Antarctica), painted wolves (Zimbabwe), tigers (India) and chimps (Senegal). "We join each family at a crucial moment," Attenborough says in his narration, "when the future of their dynasty hangs in the balance."
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For the chimp episode, noted primate filmmaker Rosie Thomas and her camera team spent two years at the edge of the Sahara tracking — often on foot, through stifling heat and dangerous downpours — a western chimp known as David. "When you meet him, he's so charismatic and exciting to watch," she says.
He's also the alpha, which requires "the perfect balance of strength, determination and muscle." Violent attacks from other adult males plus David's impressive power moves propel an emotional, riveting story that has him fighting not only to remain top ape, but also to hang on to his life.
Dynasties, Premieres Saturday, January 19, 9/8c, BBC America, AMC, IFC, SundanceTV