The latest installment of PBS’ Nature series is one of its most interesting pieces to date. What audiences get in Great Zebra Exodus is an episode of the series that is largely unlike any other in recent memory. The roughly hour-long program focuses on the migration of zebra herds across the African plains. The migration itself is interesting to follow. Viewers will take interest in the social norms of the zebra herds. And the additional notes of the meerkat family will entertain viewers just as much. They add the cute factor to the program. There is even a very touching side story about one zebra family that exhibits something very extraordinary. It is so touching that it may even leave some viewers slightly teary-eyed. It is a very touching story. It should be noted that as touching as this side-story is, there is some material throughout the program that is not entirely suitable for younger viewers. The note of parental advisory aside, there is one more factor that plays into the success of this edition of Nature. That factor is the feature’s cinematography. The story itself of the zebra migration is impressive. But the camera work in this feature is the real star. Whether one has a direct interest in cinematography or not, the varying shots of the African plains are eye-popping and may even leave some viewers watching this piece again if only for that one reason. If a person watches only one episode of Nature this year, all of these factors together make this the one episode to watch.
The concept of watching a zebra migration might not seem all that interesting to most people. It’s just a bunch of animals making its way from one place to another. So the question remains, what would make watching zebra migrate stand out? The answer is quite surprising. As one will see in watching Great Zebra Exodus, the migration of these animals is anything but ordinary. Viewers see in this episode of Naturethat there is actually quite a bit that zebras go through in their yearly migration across the Makgadikgadi salt pans of Botswana. The mares face the dangers of predators such a lions. They also face the lack of water and food during the dry season. There is also the ever present threat for mares of their own foals being potentially killed by stallions that did not sire the young zebras. It’s incredible to see the motherly instinct of the mares in protecting their young from rival adult stallions. Viewers see just how dangerous this situation is for mares. It is one of the situations that will likely be unsettling for younger viewers. Adults might also find the scenes involving stallions mating with mares improper for younger viewers, too on a related note. These are not brief moments, either. So as interesting as this whole feature is, these moments are enough to require a note of parental discretion.
What parents won’t have to worry about in Great Zebra Exodus is the bonus side story about a feeble young foal and its parents. The young zebra was born with a problem that made walking very difficult. Its legs were simply not able to support it for long. That alone will pull at viewers’ heart strings. As the story of this young zebra and its parents evolves, parents will be moved to find out about the loyalty of its parents to the young foal even despite having to leave it temporarily in order to find water. That moment at which it leaves will definitely make viewers feel so sorry for the little zebra, as it is left on its own. But to find out that the next morning, they return and the foal is safe and sound makes for a wonderfully applause worthy moment. And it would be no surprise if it leaves some viewers at least slightly teary-eyed.
The side-story of the young zebra foal is a wonderful moment for viewers in the overall feature that is Great Zebra Exodus. On an even happier note, viewers will love the extra information about a meerkat family that follows the zebras for a short while. The additional notes of the meerkat social structure are just as interesting as those of the zebra social stratification. What’s really interesting about them meerkats is the behavior of actually leaving their young with another member of a meerkat society if only for a short time in order to bring back food. Humans like to believe that they are the most intelligent of creatures on the planet. But as these small creatures (and the zebras) show, humans obviously aren’t the only intelligent beings. As this episode of Nature shows, the behaviors of animals are just as intelligent as those of humans. It is sure to get viewers talking and thinking.
The behaviors exhibited by the meerkats and zebras throughout Great Zebra Exodus are eye-opening, especially for those that perhaps had little to no prior knowledge of the animals and how they interacted within their given communities. Viewers will definitely enjoy learning these facts. Just as enjoyable to see in this episode is its cinematography. The camera work of this episode is so impressive that it could be argued to be the real star of the episode in question. The final scenes presents a rainbow over a previously rain-soaked sky as the zebra herd make their way back along their migratory route. After everything that these creatures have endured to get to where they do each year, this presents a fitting final moment. In its own way, it’s almost biblical in nature. The wide scenes showing the oncoming rains in the rainy season on the salt pans are just as incredible. Seeing the dust kicked up by the zebras during the dry season makes for quite the contrast, too. These are just some of the incredible shots obtained by the people behind the cameras of this episode. Audiences will find that there are so many more shots that they themselves will call favorites. And along with the episode’s primary and secondary stories, it all comes together to make what is one of the better episodes of Nature in recent memory. The DVD and Blu-ray are available now and can be ordered online direct from the PBS online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=19729766&cp=&sr=1&kw=great+zebra+exodus&origkw=Great+Zebra+Exodus&parentPage=search.
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