Nature: Hippo King

Air date: 04/06/2022

Premieres Wednesday, April 6 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/nature and the PBS Video app

 

Synopsis:

From Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, an old, battle-scarred hippo bull has an incredible story to tell. Previously hippos were almost always misunderstood because their secret life happens beneath the water and under the cover of darkness. This tale imagines a story of 35 years from when the hippo was a vulnerable orphan to the ultimate battle that crowns him king decades later. From birth to exile to redemption, follow the life of the “Hippo King” and discover the true character of one of Earth’s largest land mammals.

Featured Creatures:

  • Hippopotamus
  • Nile crocodile
  • Oxpecker
  • Lion
  • Egyptian goose
  • Thornicroft’s giraffe
  • African elephant
  • Spotted hyena
  • Vulture
  • Vervet monkey
  • Puku antelope
  • Leopard

Short TV Listing: Discover the true character of one of the planet’s largest land mammals, the hippo bull.

Long TV Listing: Follow the life of an old hippo, a king of its kind, and discover the true character of one of Earth’s largest land mammals. 

Buzzworthy Moments:

  • After spending time bonding with her son, a mother hippo leads her calf into the main pod, where the rest of the hippos live, for the first time. The calf huddles near its mother and other calves for protection as its father lurks nearby, using his razor-sharp tusks to establish dominance with any hippo that appears to be a threat.
  • The mother hippo loses strength in her old age and dies next to her calf. Predators such as lions, vultures and crocodiles take advantage of this feast and approach her body. The calf makes a heartbreaking decision to leave his mother’s body behind to protect himself and escape fast-chasing lions.
  • As the calf returns to the river, he is met with a challenge and exclusion. The dominant bull makes his way to the calf and fights him off, forcing the calf to find a new home. The calf spends his time alone, grazing during the night as he cautiously avoids predators like hyenas.
  • As the seasons change, the calf grows larger, as does his ambition to become the dominant bull. When he returns to the river as a fully grown bull, the dominant bull comes out of the water, bearing his tusks and ready for battle. The two aggressively fight, bite and chase after each other, until the older bull retreats in defeat. He has now won the dominant position and title “Hippo King.”

Noteworthy Facts:

  • Oxpeckers are little birds that clean hippos’ wounds and remove parasites. Submerging underwater is the only way hippos can get rid of the oxpeckers.
  • Kigelia africana, known as sausage trees, bears a fruit that resembles the shape of a sausage. This “tree of life” blooms when the drought is at its worst and is the only source of food during this time.

Series Overview:

For 40 years, Nature has brought the natural world to millions of viewers, pioneering a television genre that is now widely emulated in the broadcast industry. The series has won more than 700 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities and environmental organizations, including 20 Emmys and three Peabodys. Consistently among the most-watched primetime series on PBS, Nature continues to innovate through original digital programming, such as the new podcast Going Wild with Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant and digital series Animal IQ and Crash Course: ZoologyNature’s award-winning website, pbs.org/nature, features full episodes, short films, digital series, behind-the-scenes content, news articles, educational resources and more.

Nature is available for streaming concurrent with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. PBS station members can view many series, documentaries and specials via PBS Passport. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.

Production Credits:

Nature: Hippo King is a production of The WNET Group, Terra Mater Factual Studios, Skyland Productions, and Into Nature Productions in association with Doclights/NDR Naturfilm. The documentary is directed by Will and Lianne Steenkamp. Narrated by Russell Boulter. Andrea Gastgeb and Sabine Holzer are Executive Producers for Terra Mater Factual Studios. Nature is a production of The WNET Group. Fred Kaufman is Executive Producer. Bill Murphy is Series Producer and Janet Hess is Series Editor.

Underwriters:

Support for Nature: Hippo King was provided by Bradley L. Goldberg Family Foundation. Series funding for Nature is also made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Arnhold Foundation, The Fairweather Foundation, Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Kathy Chiao and Ken Hao, Charles Rosenblum, Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, Leonard and Norma Klorfine, Sandra Atlas Bass, Colin S. Edwards, Gregg Peters Monsees Foundation, Koo and Patricia Yuen, and public television viewers.

Websites: 
pbs.org/naturefacebook.com/PBSNaturetwitter.com/PBSNatureinstagram.com/pbsnature; youtube.com/naturepbstiktok.com/@pbsnature, #NaturePBS 

About The WNET Group
The WNET Group creates inspiring media content and meaningful experiences for diverse audiences nationwide. It is the community-supported home of New York’s THIRTEEN – America’s flagship PBS station – WLIW21, THIRTEEN PBSKids, WLIW World and Create; NJ PBS, New Jersey’s statewide public television network; Long Island’s only NPR station WLIW-FM; ALL ARTS, the arts and culture media provider; and newsroom NJ Spotlight News. Through these channels and streaming platforms, The WNET Group brings arts, culture, education, news, documentary, entertainment and DIY programming to more than five million viewers each month. The WNET Group’s award-winning productions include signature PBS series Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend and Amanpour and Company and trusted local news programs MetroFocus and NJ Spotlight News with Briana Vannozzi. Inspiring curiosity and nurturing dreams, The WNET Group’s award-winning Kids’ Media and Education team produces the PBS KIDS series Cyberchase, interactive Mission US history games, and resources for families, teachers and caregivers. A leading nonprofit public media producer for nearly 60 years, The WNET Group presents and distributes content that fosters lifelong learning, including multiplatform initiatives addressing poverty, jobs, economic opportunity, social justice, understanding and the environment. Through Passport, station members can stream new and archival programming anytime, anywhere. The WNET Group represents the best in public media. Join us.

 

###

Photos
For editorial use in North America only in conjunction with the direct publicity or promotion of NATURE, no other rights are granted. All rights reserved. Downloading this image constitutes agreement to these terms.

Silhouette of a lone hippo as it returns to the river moments before the sun appears over the horizon. Credit: Will Steenkamp / © Terra Mater Factual Studios + Skyland Productions + Into Nature Productions

A lone hippo returns to the river at sunrise after a night out grazing on land. Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios + Skyland Productions + Into Nature Productions

A hippo cow lifts herself from the water. Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios + Skyland Productions + Into Nature Productions

Two powerful hippo bulls in a deadly battle for the throne. Credit: Will Steenkamp / © Terra Mater Factual Studios + Skyland Productions + Into Nature Productions

A dominant hippo bull is threatening a younger hippo bull by swiping his head from side to side, with razor sharp tusks slicing through the water. Credit: Will Steenkamp / © Terra Mater Factual Studios + Skyland Productions + Into Nature Productions

A giant yawn from a hippopotamus. Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios + Skyland Productions + Into Nature Productions

Hippo teenagers sparring, which is good practice for future battles for dominance. Credit: Will Steenkamp / © Terra Mater Factual Studios + Skyland Productions + Into Nature Productions

A dominant hippo bull patrols his beach. Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios + Skyland Productions + Into Nature Productions