Circus of the Wild


Animals frequently make us laugh because of their unusual or clumsy behaviour, or the entertaining situations they get themselves into. This filmic journey around the world presents a wide range of astonishing and amusing animal antics, from mischievous Barbary macaques to penguins on beaches, from monkeys in thermal baths to elephants at a hotel reception.

The Rock of Gibraltar lies at the point where the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean meet, and it is the only place on the European mainland where monkeys live in the wild. The region’s Barbary macaques are a popular attraction for tourists – but the attraction goes both ways. Over time, the macaques have learned that humans are a welcome source of food. Tourist backpacks and bags often contain packed lunches and other snacks, and the wily macaques are exceptionally clever thieves when the opportunity arises.

Penguins are usually found in icy, remote areas of the Antarctic, but some have made their way to South Africa and settled on the country’s beaches. Among them are the so-called “jackass” penguins. Their name derives from the unusual braying sound they make – but could equally apply to some of their behaviour. Encounters between the penguins and humans are frequently entertaining, and it is never quite clear who the beaches actually belong to…

Japanese macaques enjoy a far more carefree existence: high up in the snow-covered mountains of Japan there are very few intruders, and in winter the macaques are happy to let their fur down and relax in the region’s thermal springs. Although they are also known as snow monkeys, the animals much prefer the soothing warmth of the pools where they paddle, play and groom each other’s fur.

Like the macaques, humans like to get away from it all every now and then. Sometimes, however, they find themselves with some unintended companions…

In Zambia in southern Africa, a luxury lodge was established for wildlife tourists, but the owners and visitors got more than they bargained for: the lodge was built in the path of an old, traditional elephant migration route. The grey giants adapted quickly, and herds are now regularly seen marching past the reception desk in the lobby to get at the succulent fruits that grow on the lodge’s trees. It is an exceptional experience for the lodge’s guests, entertaining and out of the ordinary – like so much else that happens in the animal kingdom, and in this documentary.

A co-production of Doclights/NDR Naturfilm and Terra Mater Factual Studios