Stunning HD cinematography produces an epic yet intimate look at the forests of the Untamed Americas. With the biggest latitude of any of the continents, the Americas boast the greatest variety of forests in the world: from the tropical rain forest of the Amazon, to the boreal forest in the far north.
They may look like Edens, but living in these American forests is the ultimate test of survival – they’re exposed to brutally harsh seasonal extremes of floods, freeze, and fire. The forests rights here in our backyards are also secret worlds with creatures both rare and familiar doing extraordinary things to survive. These are dramatic intimate scenes of America’s iconic animals as you’ve never seen them before.
JAGUAR HUNTS CAIMAN IN THE AMAZON: In one of the most incredible moments ever captured on camera: a jaguar hunts and kills a caiman crocodile. The jaguar’s signature killing technique is a bite to the brain.
SPIDER MONKEYS: Everything in the Amazon rain forest must live in fear of the jaguar. Living in the high canopy, spider monkeys would seem to be safe. But every week or so, they must go down. On the forest floor below is a salt lick. Like an oasis in the desert, a salt lick in a jungle gets a lot of visitors. But it’s a dangerous place to come to. But the monkeys have no choice but to go down. Every deep shadow could conceal a jaguar…
PINK RIVER DOLPHINS: For several months a year, parts of the Amazon becomes a drowned world – the rivers burst their banks and the waters floods the forest. Everything that lives here must adapt. For pink river dolphins, or botos, it presents a new challenge: their main prey, fish, have a lot more water to swim in and it becomes very hard to find them.
SPIRIT BEAR: One of the largest temperate rain forest ecosystems on Earth is right here in our backyard: down along the coast of Alaska and British Columbia. It’s the home of one of the rarest, most elusive animals on Earth – the spirit bear. It’s a white black bear. Its color is caused by a genetic mutation. Every fall, there’s a chance to see them – they leave the forests and gather at their favorite fishing streams to hunt the salmon that have returned home to spawn. One old spirit bear has had years of practice. A younger one still hasn’t perfected his technique…
FOREST IN WINTER – WOLVES HUNT ELK: A big wolf pack will eat 100 pounds of fresh meat a day. They must hunt and they must go after big prey. And they don’t come much bigger than a 700-pound bull elk. The wolves can’t easily hunt them in the forest. They must hunt them in the open, where the deep snow drags on the big elk. An epic chase ensues, a life and death encounter that has been playing out on our North America stage for thousands of years. In winter, the wolves’ hunting success is off the charts.
BOREAL FOREST IN WINTER – FOX HUNTS VOLE, OWL HUNTS VOLE: In the northern forests of Canada, winter is a tough time. Subzero temperatures, little or no sunlight, and much water is frozen and unavailable. It seems like a world completely void of life. Yet listen closely and you might hear a whole world beneath the snow. An inch or two above the ground it’s warm enough for the snow to melt and create a habitable zone for voles. They scurry about – gathering food, defending territory, and maintaining tunnels to the surface above. But all this activity leaves them vulnerable – a fox listens above, figuring out the exact position of the vole before unleashing an attack. The vole escapes but another predator arrives – an owl, the ultimate vole hunter. It launches an aerial bombardment from which there is no escape…
BOREAL FOREST IN SPRING – BEAVERS REBUILD THEIR LODGE: After months of cold and dark, the breath of spring touches the frozen north woods. Creatures that have spent the winter holed up emerge to begin another brief year. For beavers, there’s no time to waste. Winter will return in the blink of an eye. Without doubt, beavers are the hardest working creatures in the north woods. Equal parts lumberjack, engineer and landscape architect – no species on Earth, other than humans, shapes the forest in such dramatic ways…After months living on rations, they’re ravenous for buds of spring. Bellies full, it’s time to get for spring repairs. With just a couple of sharp front teeth, a beaver does the work of a logging crew. Before long, the beaver lodge is as good as new. By eating and cutting down trees, and building their huge ponds, beavers create a vast network of wetlands throughout the forest…enabling countless other kinds of trees and animals to thrive.
BOREAL FOREST IN SUMMER – FOREST FIRES: Summer can be an even deadlier time in the northern forest. Massive fires can ignite, annihilating thousands of square miles of forest in a few hours. From salamanders to bears, animals have a choice: run or take cover. The flames will consume anything that can’t escape in time. By the end, it’s a smoldering wasteland. But many of the trees here have been waiting for this moment. The heat from the fire has opened their cones and now they drop their seeds, the beginning of the next generation of trees. The seeds land on the freshly prepared soil, cleared of years of accumulated pine needles. Within years, the forest will be back to full health. Despite what we think, fire is a natural and essential part of life in a forest.