From Academy Award-winning filmmaker and National Geographic explorer-at-large James Cameron, the series travels the world - from the Savannahs of Africa to the urban landscapes of Asia - to discover the strategic thinking, complex emotions and sophisticated language of elephants, shaping a unique and dynamic culture.
Narrated by Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman and featuring renowned National Geographic explorer and elephant expert Dr. Paula Kahumbu, the four-part series not only reveals the extraordinary lives of different families of elephants but also highlights how similar they are to us. Secrets Of The Elephants will change everything you thought you knew about elephants forever.
Elephants have long been a source of wonder and mystery with their rich emotional lives and almost supernatural ways of navigating the world. In Secrets Of The Elephants, we travel the globe to meet different families of elephants ― desert elephants, forest elephants, Asian elephants and African savannah elephants. Each with their own specific set of cultural behaviours passed between them, has an incredible story of intelligence, grace and survival to tell.
They are powerful, loving and wise but only now are we starting to unlock the deepest secrets of the elephants. Their strategic thinking, complex emotions and sophisticated language has created a unique and dynamic culture making them more like us than we ever thought possible
The four-episode series that explores the courage, tenacity and complexities of elephant life in these unique contexts will land on Disney+ on Earth Day, as well as in a special back-to-back broadcast on National Geographic Wild from 18:45 – 22:00 (CAT), providing viewers with a larger-than-life viewing experience. The four episodes – Desert, Savanna, Asia and Rainforest – will take families on a journey across the globe, providing insight into the fascinating creatures like never before.
Several National Geographic explorers including Dr Paula Kahumbu (winner of the Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year 2021), Sandy Oduor, Shane Campbell-Staton, Dominique Gonçalves and others, collaborated on the research behind the production to uncover new dimensions of elephants’ remarkable lives, to unlock their secret worlds and to understand how each sub-species has adapted to their unique environmental context in the face of evolving climate change.
Additionally, the latest science and camera technology helps portray not just how truly extraordinary they are in their own right, but also how similar they are to humans.
“With an over 135-year-old legacy in natural history content, we’re just as passionate about who’s telling our stories as the stories we tell," said National Geographic content president Courteney Monroe. “Whether it be our onscreen scientists in Secrets Of The Elephants, our narrators like Natalie Portman, or our filmmakers like Jim Cameron, we have become a port-of-call for best in class talent who want to tell meaningful stories that inspire a deeper connection to our world. Our Secrets Of franchise reinforces our commitment at National Geographic to remaining THE leader in natural history storytelling," she concluded.
For Secrets Of The Elephants, Emmy Award-winners James Cameron and Maria Wilhelm for Earthship are executive producers. Lucinda Axelsson is the executive producer for Oxford Scientific Films. Her credits include “China: Nature’s Ancient Kingdom,” “Serengeti,” “Wild Brazil,” “Elephant Diaries,” “Elephants of Samburu,” “Meerkat Manor,” “Spy in the Wild.”
This episode reveals the secrets of Namibia’s last remaining desert elephants. When droughts, sandstorms and even floods threaten them, their shared knowledge passed down from generation to generation keeps them alive. This is the toughest place on earth to be an elephant, and their story is one of triumph in a land of extremes.
Big families and strong relationships are the basis of success for savanna elephants. As we uncover their secrets, we start to understand their remarkable language. It’s not just noise; they communicate like us. Good leadership and close friendships help them through the hard times as they scale cliffs, find their place in the hierarchy and mourn their dead.
As humans encroach ever further into their environment, Asian elephants are learning to adjust to the challenges facing them. They know how to use tools to break down electric fences, strike deals with farmers, and develop a cooperative arrangement on tea plantations where they do the weeding without damaging the crops.
The Congo rainforest is home to one of the world’s most elusive species, the African forest elephant. Everything about them - their bodies, their behaviors, their families - is adapted to life in the rainforest. But surviving here means more than just adapting. These elephants have shaped the forest around them to their needs and, in doing so, have created a habitat unlike any other on Earth.