Nature: Season 19 (2000 - 2001)


Season 19

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Air date: Oct 22, 2000

Actress Julia Roberts samples life on the plains with Mongolian horse herders. Roberts helps her hosts pack up their entirely portable homes for a jaunt to a family celebration that includes a horse race for children, who start riding at age 2.

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Air date: Oct 29, 2000

Examining the octopus's behavior, which includes the extraordinary power to alter its shape, color and texture at will. Filmed in natural habitats around the world, and in a specially constructed series of aquariums by Michael deGruy, whose "Incredible Suckers" episode chronicling cephalopod communication is one of the series' most popular episodes. Shari Belafonte narrates.

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Air date: Nov 12, 2000

Focusing on birds' mental and physical abilities. Included: homing pigeons; peregrine falcons, who fly can up to 200 mph; and hummingbirds, whose body color determines turf and whose fast pace is countered by nighttime hibernation. Also: birds used as therapy for seniors.

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Air date: Nov 19, 2000

Chronicling efforts to alleviate the population crisis of elephants in captivity, the grueling life of performing elephants and the importance of social interaction for the animals. Also: a Tennessee sanctuary where two elephants are reunited after 25 years, including one that has not seen another elephant in two decades.

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Air date: Dec 17, 2000

A look at how water buffalo and lions coexist during Tanzania's dry season, when the buffalo are the sole source of food for lions, and how the buffalo defend themselves.

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Air date: Jan 7, 2001

An account of the annual polar-bear migration through Churchill, Manitoba, en route to Hudson Bay, which makes the town a haven for scientists, as well as tourists, who are not always mindful of the hazards the bears pose. William H. Macy narrates.

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Air date: Jan 14, 2001

Scientists continue probing deeper into the process of evolution, constantly learning new information about how different species developed. During this first episode of the six-part Triumph of Life series, actor Liev Schreiber narrates as special footage focuses on new chemical and biological changes now being studied. Also posed are questions regarding how genes combine and produce new traits in different species. Experts debate how the earliest forms of life arrived or developed on this planet. While some scientists believe they were deposited here by meteorites, others think they naturally arose from the oceans and atmosphere. Different theories about why dinosaurs became extinct are also discussed in the program.

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Air date: Jan 21, 2001

During this second episode of Triumph of Life's six-part series, experts discuss the evolution of sex and the important role it plays in the world. Different species are featured as a viewers are given information about how each group reproduces. The program points out the mating behaviors common to different creatures, noting that in some cases an insect may die as a result of mating. The modes of reproduction common to fish are discussed, as well as those involving "hermaphrodite" marine worms. Viewers are also informed about how mating can produce new offspring that are better able to resist certain viruses or other threats.

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Air date: Jan 28, 2001

This third installment of the Triumph of Life series investigates nature's "arms race" -- evolution and the survival of the fittest. The program takes an in-depth look at how creatures adapt to environmental threats to their physical safety, emphasizing how animals behave in order to protect themselves or to find food. Experts discuss how some animals have evolved to the point that their bodies provide them with the coloring they need for camouflage, while others like cheetahs have developed an extremely fast running ability. Sharper teeth, tougher body armor, and other physical traits are critical to the featured species as they try to survive their own form of an "arms race."

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Air date: Feb 4, 2001

The fourth episode in the Triumph of Life series addresses the way that humans and others creatures form mutually supportive relationships with those they believe can help them live safer, more meaningful lives. Teamwork takes place when species like birds travel in flocks in order to frustrate preying falcons that might be more likely to attack them if they spent more time alone. Likewise, the program notes that wildebeests often move about in herds, fully aware that their sheer numbers might make a hungry lion think twice about targeting them. Even the featured Damaraland mole rats have discovered that drilling through the soil as a team is the most productive way for them to locate the roots and tubers that they need for survival.

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