This is not a battle of eternal enemies – but a war of wits. Join Kevin Richardson and some of the world’s leading behavioural zoologists as hyenas and lions are pitted against each other in a series of exciting, entertaining and ground-breaking puzzles and trials, to discover what makes them the ultimate apex predator…
In this series, world-famous ‘lion whisperer’ Kevin Richardson will be joined by a team of highly qualified experts, such as researcher Natalia D. Borrego (USA), world-renowned lion authority Dr Craig Packer (USA) and zoologist Dr Christine Drea (USA). Together, they will identify the lions’ as well as the hyenas’ behaviour when it comes to solving tasks and riddles, custom-tailored to the animals in question.
The different trials will focus on specific abilities and aspects of the animals’ behaviour. Cognitive awareness and social intelligence will be put to the test: how well will the animals fare when it comes to various tasks, such as puzzle boxes, rope pulling or mirror mazes? Will they share their findings with animals from their own family or clan – or will they keep their knowledge to themselves?
The animals will work alone as well as in pairs, in constellations they may not be used to and which will challenge them even more. How will subordinate or dominant animals change roles when paired differently, to fulfil a task as yet unknown to them?
We will also explore numerical assessment skills – can these animals understand the concept of less and more, bigger versus smaller? Can they display their understanding by operating touch screens? It will be demonstrated why understanding these concepts might be helpful for the animals even in the wild.
Under the surveillance of our experts, the animals’ learning behaviour will be analysed. How quickly do they understand a task, learn how a puzzle can be solved and even teach other fellow species how to proceed? Puzzle boxes with different solutions will be presented to the animals, and only a few of them will be taught to solve them beforehand. Will they pass on their knowledge to their kin or group?
Usually, lions and hyenas need to hunt for food, protect their cubs and territory – and in order to do this they need to recognise group members. But how does remembering who individuals are and learning to interact with them help to solve problems?
Social politics in lion prides and hyena clans differ; will these differences play out in the end, when it comes to solving various puzzles? Which animal is more hard-wired for social co-operation and forming alliances, lions or hyenas? And why?
This series is not about trying to find a winner, but instead will reveal why each of these species is the ultimate specialist in their own unique way.
Produced by Kingdom Films and Smithsonian Networks in association with Animal Planet International and Terra Mater Factual Studios
Written and directed by Virginia Quinn
Executive producers: Andrea Gastgeb,
2 x 53 + 1 x 90 min.
HD, 5.1 and Stereo
European Science TV and New Media Festival & Awards 2015 (Lisbon, Portugal): Best TV Documentary chosen by a Young Jury (Episode 2)