BSkyB – Big Cats: An Amazing Animal Family
Up till now, Sky’s contribution to the nature documentary has generally been in the 3D sphere and with David Attenborough. But they can do standard natural history, too, and this two-part look at the rise of the big cat is perfect viewing. Biologist Patrick Aryee (you might remember him from the BBC Super Senses series) criss-crosses the globe for close personal contact with playful cloud leopard juveniles in Thailand, and a slightly less friendly encounter with a lion in South Africa.
You can’t help but be impressed by feline resourcefulness, be it the extra fat stored on the belly of Siberian tigers to keep the chill of deep snow at bay, or the powerful back legs of the delicate African caracal that allow it to leap three metres in the air to catch birds in flight. All lovingly captured, with plenty of slo-mo for detail.
Part one of two. Biologist Patrick Aryee explores how cats have evolved throughout the millennia, learning to thrive in inhospitable environments, as well as becoming the world’s most popular pet. In the first edition there is spectacular footage of caracals jumping three metres to catch flying birds, and a rare Bornean bay cat, which was thought to have been extinct. Patrick finds out how tigers made the transition from South-east Asia’s steamy jungles to the -40C temperatures of Siberia, and meets `lion whisperer’ Kevin Richardson.
Patrick Aryee concludes his two-part exploration of the feline family tree, revealing how the Canadian lynx learned to thrive in the snow and spread out, evolving and inhabiting new parts of the Americas. In Belize, he mounts an experiment that showcases the margay’s supersharp senses and gravity-defying acrobatics, and heads to the training track with a cheetah to find out what speed it is capable of. Finally, Patrick tells the story of the cat’s domestication in Essaouira, Morocco, believed to be one of the first places where one particular species first gave up life in the wild in return for food, warmth, security and a home.