Nature (Season 36) – The Cheetah Children

Air date: 11/08/2017

Nature – The Cheetah Children

Premieres Wednesday, November 8 at 8 p.m. on PBS

(check local listings)


Life on the African plains is a constant struggle, and for a single mother rearing her offspring, the odds seem to be stacked against them. This is an inspiring tale about motherhood and family, as we follow a cheetah family on the grasslands through the eyes of conservationist and cameraman Kim Wolhuter. The mother is completely on her own, protecting her five newborn cubs and teaching them how to hunt some of the continent’s fastest game. Watch as the inquisitive cubs explore the world around them and discover their place in the forests of Zimbabwe. Over time, two sister cubs survive and develop into brave and successful predators ensuring their species will give birth to another generation. One hour.

Notable Talent:

  • Kim Wolhuter, producer and cinematographer (appears on-camera in the film)
  • Robyn Keene-Young, writer and director
  • Adrian Bailey, producer

Noteworthy Facts:

  • The Malilangwe Game Reserve in Zimbabwe, where the film takes place, is a dangerous place for cheetah cubs, as the 200-square-mile area is filled with other predators.
  • Cheetah mothers do not have partners or sisters to assist in feeding and protecting their cubs. They have just over a year to teach their young to survive in the wilderness without them.
  • Wolhuter aids an injured animal he is observing if the injury is manmade and/or if the animal is an endangered species. (Wolhuter aids one of the cheetah cubs after it suffers a baboon bite across the shoulder in the film.)
  • Many cheetah cubs do not make it to adulthood, a statistic that presents a daunting challenge for Africa’s cheetah population.
  • A mother cheetah leaving her scent where it will lure male cheetahs is a sign she is ready for another cycle of motherhood and it’s the end of her cubs’ childhoods, as the cubs no longer follow her after she leaves her mark.

Buzzworthy Moment:

  • After two cubs are killed by predators, a third cub succumbs to a sudden, mysterious illness. Despite the mother’s calls for her cub to follow, the cub cannot move and dies by night fall. The mother cheetah has now lost three of her five cubs in seven months.

Series Overview:

Nature brings the wonders of natural history to millions of American viewers. Nature has won more than 700 honors from the television industry, the international wildlife film communities and environmental organizations, including 18 Emmys and three Peabody Awards.

Production Credits:

Nature is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and PBS. For Nature, Fred Kaufman is executive producer. Bill Murphy is series producer. The Cheetah Children is a production of Hat Creek Productions in association with Mavela Media for THIRTEEN Productions LLC and BBC Studios in association with WNET. Chris Morgan is narrator. Robyn Keene-Young is writer and director. Adrian Bailey and Kim Wolhuter are producers. Kim Wolhuter is also cinematographer. Matt Meech is editor. Original music by Alan Lazar.


Support for this Nature program was made possible in part by the Arnhold Family in memory of Clarisse Arnhold, the Halmi Family in memory of Robert Halmi, Sr., Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, the Filomen M. D’Agostino Foundation, Rosalind P. Walter, Sandra Atlas Bass, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by the nation’s public television stations.

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 (THIRTEEN PBSKids, 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, Theater Close-Up, 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:


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The mother cheetah on a fallen tree trunk, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe. Credit: © Kim Wolhuter

The mother cheetah sits on a termite mound surrounded by four of her cubs, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe. Credit: © Kim Wolhuter

A young cheetah cub looks up from its meal, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe. Credit: © Kim Wolhuter

Two young cheetah cubs lie in the shade while their mother rests in the background, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe. Credit: © Kim Wolhuter

Three young cheetah cubs play on a tree, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe. Credit: © Kim Wolhuter

Portrait of a young cheetah cub, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe. Credit: © Kim Wolhuter

Four young cheetahs play, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe. Credit: © Kim Wolhuter

A subadult cheetah explores Kim Wolhuter’s camera lens, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe. Credit: © Kim Wolhuter

The mother cheetah with Shanatse and Chinzvi with a dead impala ewe, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe. Credit: © Kim Wolhuter

BEHIND THE SCENES - Kim Wolhuter photographs while a cheetah cub inspects his foot. The mother cheetah rests in the background, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe. Credit: © Taryn Burns

Kim Wolhuter with a young cheetah cub, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe. Credit: © Taryn Burns

Two cheetah cubs stalk an impala herd. Credit: © Kim Wolhuter/BBC