Nature: Season 18 (1999 - 2000)

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Season 18
Nature

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Episodes

Air date: Oct 24, 1999

A two-part visit to "Antarctica: The End of the Earth." Part 1 examines how the continent has been shaped by its prevailing wind, "The Katabatic." Narrator Joseph Campanella describes it as "the Antarctic's overlord---a ruler so merciless that nothing escapes its reach." Animals that must cope with the 200-mph winds include seals (Antarctica's only full-time residents, one of which is seen giving birth) and snow petrels, sea birds that "commute" 500 miles to inland nests. Also: scientists find disturbing evidence of global warming.

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Air date: Oct 31, 1999

"Antarctica: The End of the Earth" concludes with a study of its icebergs ("haunting sculptures which hold the mysteries of life," says narrator Joseph Campanella) and the ecosystem they support. Plant life found on icebergs' undersides are eaten by shrimplike creatures called krill, which in turn are food for crabeater seals. Also seen feeding on iceberg feeding grounds: leopard seals; killer whales; Adelie and emperor penguins; and sea birds, including snow petrels. The hour also explores the effect of seasonal change on Antarctic wildlife.

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Air date: Nov 14, 1999

Corralling horses, free-spirited animals that are nonetheless "the backbone of civilization," says narrator Sally Kellerman. "They utterly changed our sense of distance and speed." The hour, which visits Mongolia, Montana, Spain, Georgia and California, traces horses back some 60-million years, and examines how humans and their predecessors have used (and abused) them over the last million. Also examined: efforts to return horses to the wild; how "horse whisperers" communicate with horses; and "therapeutic riding" for people with disabilities. Produced in cooperation with National Geographic Television.

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Air date: Nov 21, 1999

Following mushers and their mutts (Alaskan huskies really are mutts) during the 1999 Iditarod race, an 1100-mile endurance run from Anchorage to Nome. It is, says narrator Peter Coyote, "the ultimate test of our oldest partnership." Among the mushers: Jerome Longo, a former White House chef who "left everything to pursue a relationship with these dogs"; construction worker Sonny Lindner, with an all-yearling team; and Lynda Pletttner, who's counting on 10-year-old lead dog Argy to pull her through.

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Air date: Dec 5, 1999

Human lives have been influenced by animals in matters that reach far beyond the food chain. In surprising ways, animals help teach, heal, and strengthen people -- in body, mind, and spirit.

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Air date: Jan 4, 2000

"Inside the Animal Mind," a three-part probe of animal intelligence and emotion, begins by pondering the question "Are Animals Intelligent?" The hour is full of examples of rats, elephants and birds using their "mental maps." Also: a dolphin is seen following a command in a way that clearly indicates it understood the command. Meanwhile, an orangutan washes clothes immediately after it sees a person doing the same thing. "Is this just aping," asks narrator Steve Kroft, "or does this animal understand what it is doing?"

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Air date: Jan 9, 2000

The humpback whale was once hunted almost to extinction, and now that it is under the protection of conservation laws, it has experienced a rebound in numbers. Found in climate extremes from the coasts of Alaska and Antarctica to the warm waters around the Pacific islands of Fiji and Tonga, this remarkable creature is studied in Nature: Humpback Whales. Underwater footage reveals the competitive males as they fight for mates, and the special relationship of calves to their mothers. Secrets of their hunting strategies are revealed, as they are filmed herding fish with nets made of air bubbles.

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Air date: Jan 9, 2000

The humpback whale was once hunted almost to extinction, and now that it is under the protection of conservation laws, it has experienced a rebound in numbers. Found in climate extremes from the coasts of Alaska and Antarctica to the warm waters around the Pacific islands of Fiji and Tonga, this remarkable creature is studied in Nature: Humpback Whales. Underwater footage reveals the competitive males as they fight for mates, and the special relationship of calves to their mothers. Secrets of their hunting strategies are revealed, as they are filmed herding fish with nets made of air bubbles.

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Air date: Jan 11, 2000

Part 2 of "Inside the Animal Mind" explores animal emotion. "They may be much more humanlike than you might think," says narrator Steve Kroft. Examples range from Jane Goodall looking into the expressive faces of chimps to a veterinary therapist prescribing Prozac for a stressed-out cockatoo. Also, a dog suffering from separation anxiety is seen throwing a tantrum when his mistress leaves him. And fish, it seems, have feelings too. "The sea is not full of cold fish at all," says Prof. George Losey of the University of Hawaii. "They have a lot of pleasure."

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Air date: Jan 18, 2000

"Inside the Animal Mind" concludes with speculation about the level of animal consciousness and self-awareness. "They think in pictures," says Prof. Temple Grandon of Colorado State University, referring to cattle. The hour also delves into the minds of birds, bees, bears and baboons, as well as chimps, sheep and elephants. Do they feel pain? Comprehend mortality? It's hard to say. "They live in a different world," says Stephen Buriansky, the author of "If Lions Could Talk." Steve Kroft narrates.

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