David Attenborough’s Dynasties crew saved newly-hatched penguins from certain death when filming in Antarctica.
We’re only two episodes in to Attenborough’s new series, but so far each episode has tortured viewers as we wish we could help the poor animals who are facing the trials and tribulations of nature.
Last week it was poor David the Chimpanzee being left for dead after a brutal attack by his rivals, and as tragic is those scenes were, I think last night’s penguins gave David a run for his money.
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#EarthOnLocation The male huddle in midwinter. Females lay the egg and leave for up to 100 days at sea, hunting for food to feed the newborn chick. Meanwhile, male emperor penguins huddle for warmth, protecting and incubating the egg on their feet against their exposed brood patch. #Dynasties continues tonight 8pm on @BBCOne. Click the link for Dynasties where you are . . . . . #penguin #bird #birdsofinstagram #emperorpenguin #animals #animallovers #wildlife #bird_brilliance #antarctica #bbcearth #earthcapture #wildlife_seekers #wildlifephotography #travel #travelphotography #nature_brilliance #landscapephotography #birdlovers #babyanimals #cute
‘Emperor‘ followed the story of a close-knit community of Emperor penguins in the freezing conditions of Antarctica, and while penguins are built to face the cold, I don’t think any amount of blubber could have prepared them for the minus 60 degree temperatures that hit during filming.
In his calming voice, Attenborough explained it was ‘the coldest and cruellest winter on Earth’.
Viewers saw the penguins mate and produce their precious eggs before the females of the group headed off on their long journeys to find food for the family.
The remaining penguins huddled desperately for warmth, but the poor animals on the outside of the group still endured the freezing wind whipping at them while they tried to protect their eggs.
After attempting to find shelter, viewers were left heartbroken to see the desolate landscape dotted with fallen penguins and scattered eggs as those who fell were left behind.
The penguins who managed to survive the long wait for their partner’s return were rewarded with an adorable reunion, where the mother got to meet their baby for the first time.
Of course, being an Attenborough documentary, viewers weren’t comforted by the scenes for long before he threw us right back into more distressing situations.
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#EarthOnLocation by @christmannphoto Peek-a-boo! A tiny two-week-old emperor penguin chick balanced on its mothers feet and snug in her pouch. The chick will happily sit here being fed by both parents for the first four weeks of its life. If the mother hasn't returned from sea by the time the chick is born, the male penguin will produce and secrete a curd-like substance from his oesophagus to feed the chick, allowing for survival and growth for up to two weeks. #Dynasties continues tonight 8pm on @BBCOne. Click the link in our bio for Dynasties where you are . . . . . #penguin #bird #birdsofinstagram #emperorpenguin #animals #animallovers #wildlife #bird_brilliance #antarctica #bbcearth #earthcapture #wildlife_seekers #wildlifephotography #travel #travelphotography #nature_brilliance #landscapephotography #birdlovers #babyanimals #cute
Like me, most viewers probably thought it couldn’t get any worse when maternal parents who had lost their babies decided to swoop in and steal the young of another, but we were wrong.
In arguably the most heart wrenching scenes Attenborough has ever subjected us to, we saw some female penguins stuck in an icy ravine with their young after a blinding blizzard.
The mothers were faced with the decision of saving themselves or sticking by their babies, and tragically they chose the former.
One helpless little penguin ended up sliding further away from its penguin community before waddling desperately around and calling for its mother, tearing apart the hearts of viewers across the UK as it did so.
Thankfully, the Dynasties crew had the same reaction to the scene and couldn’t help but step in, ignoring the golden rule about not interfering with nature.
— BBC Earth (@BBCEarth) November 18, 2018
While they didn’t help the trapped penguins directly, the filmmakers gave the adorable creatures a way out of their bind by digging a few steps up which the animals would hopefully climb to freedom and away from death.
Though it went against the usual proceedings of simply observing the scenes, the Dynasties crew were praised for stepping in:
That camera crew deserve MBE’s for saving them penguins👍👌#Dynasties
— steven o'brien (@stevenobrien80) November 18, 2018
Absolute scenes in ours last night when the chick followed the adult penguin back to the colony and then the film crew saving the penguins by digging out a path for them #Dynasties pic.twitter.com/mdjBa0vIT8
— El Breth (@ElBrethers) November 19, 2018
That was a rollercoaster of emotions…a huge thank you to the #Dynasties team for saving all those penguins❤️
— 𝒟𝒾𝒶𝓂❀𝓃𝒹𝒞𝓇𝓎𝓈𝓉𝒶𝓁｡ [REST] (@miragechen) November 18, 2018
With this much turmoil in just the second episode, I dread to think what the rest of the Dynasties series will hold. At least Attenborough’s voice will provide a soothing refuge from the scenes.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.