Nature (Season 34) – Nature’s Perfect Partners

Air date: 05/11/2016

THIRTEEN’s Nature Surveys Unusual Collaborations in the Animal Kingdom on Nature’s Perfect Partners

Wednesday, May 11, 2016 on PBS

Surprising stories of teamwork in the natural world

It won’t come as any surprise that survival is the number one goal in the animal kingdom. But to ensure success on a continual basis, many creatures have opted to form alliances rather than go it alone. There are all kinds of partnerships to fulfill different needs, but as this film explains, these relationships are not only between animals of the same species. What is really astonishing is that completely unrelated species also form unlikely collaborations to succeed in the wild.

Nature’s Perfect Partners travels around the world to profile an array of such animals who have joined forces. The film airs Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). After the broadcast, the episode will be available for online streaming at

The program offers examples of how partnerships between unrelated species, such as lions and lizards, work. Although they can be a lion’s food source, lizards feed on the constant flies buzzing around the lions as they try to nap after a hearty meal of wildebeest. It is a win-win situation for both: the lizards feast on flies while the lions get an undisturbed siesta. In another segment, providing protection is what the goby, a small warm water fish, does for its housemate the shrimp, which is almost completely blind. The goby looks out for the shrimp when the latter ventures outside its shelter. The shrimp even flicks one of its antennae continually over the goby to make sure its partner is always nearby. Other unlikely couples include tarantulas and toads; hippos and little fish called barbells; as well as silver tip sharks and jacks, small saltwater fish.

The film also documents how other animals build partnerships with their own kind in order to survive. Teamwork is a trait practiced by elephants who live in large social groups, often spanning generations. The program shows how members of a herd quickly react when an inexperienced mother unknowingly puts her newborn calf in jeopardy crossing a mud pan and river. Other segments, documenting the power of collaboration within the same species, feature the strategies of a wolf pack, a pod of killer whales, a group of silver ants, and a large hyena clan.

As Nature’s Perfect Partners emphasizes, these animal alliances require coordination, resourcefulness, intelligence, and at times, bravery, as staying alive often comes with an element of risk. But it also cites another partnership, between animals and humans, which has existed for centuries. However, this relationship has chiefly consisted of people using wild animals to their own advantage, with the exception of a time-honored collaboration in East Africa among the local Masai and the honeyguide bird. Whether for protection, nourishment, assistance or guidance, the film concludes, it’s simply smart for species to join forces.

Nature is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. For Nature, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. Nature’s Perfect Partners is a co-production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC and BBC in association with WNET.

Nature pioneered a television genre that is now widely emulated in the broadcast industry.  Throughout its history, Nature has brought the natural world to millions of viewers.  The series has been consistently among the most-watched primetime series on public television.

Nature has won more than 700 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities and environmental organizations, including 16 Emmys and three Peabodys. The series received two of wildlife film industry’s highest honors: the Christopher Parsons Outstanding Achievement Award given by the Wildscreen Festival and the Grand Teton Award given by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. The International Wildlife Film Festival honored Nature executive producer Fred Kaufman with its Lifetime Achievement Award for Media. is the award-winning web companion to Nature, featuring streaming episodes, filmmaker interviews, teacher’s guides and more.

Support for this Nature program was made possible in part by the Arnhold Family in memory of Clarisse Arnhold, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, the Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, the Arlene and Milton D. Berkman Philanthropic Fund, Sandra Atlas Bass, Rosalind P. Walter, Bradley L. Goldberg Family Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers.




About WNET
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station and parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21. WNET also operates NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its broadcast channels, three cable services (KidsThirteen, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings. WNET’s groundbreaking series for children and young adults include Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase as well as Mission US, the award-winning interactive history game. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the daily multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. In addition, WNET produces online-only programming including the award-winning series about gender identity, First Person, and an intergenerational look at tech and pop culture, The Chatterbox with Kevin and Grandma Lill. In 2015, THIRTEEN launched Passport, an online streaming service which allows members to see new and archival THIRTEEN and PBS programming anytime, anywhere:


Sorry, photography is no longer in rights for the web. Please contact Thirteen's Communications Department at 212.560.3022.