Attenborough show reveals secrets of survival

Survival of the fittest: Dynasties took more than two years to film.

Are you a lion or a penguin? A new TV series narrated by Sir David Attenborough will look at whether it is best to be aggressive or to work together to survive in the wild.

What’s happening

Dynasties, a new wildlife programme narrated by Sir David Attenborough, the nation’s favourite naturalist, starts on Sunday on BBC One. The series comes a year after Attenborough’s Blue Planet II drew attention to the problem of plastic filling our oceans and harming the animals that live there.

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Four of the five episodes will focus on a “ruler” animal — a lion, chimpanzee, wolf or tiger — that uses aggression and a competitive spirit to survive. The fifth will examine how emperor penguins cooperate with each other to survive in their brutal Antarctic habitat.

As they approach adulthood, young male lions are forced out of their pride. Alone in the wilderness, they must try to take over another male’s pride by challenging him in a fight.

This rivalry means that only the strongest males survive and pass down these qualities to their offspring.

In contrast, huge colonies of penguins huddle together for warmth in temperatures as low as -60C. The birds take turns to stand on the freezing edge of the group and then move inside so they can all keep warm.

Are you a lion or a penguin?

Some say…

I am a lion! Lions are the king of beasts, and it is exciting and fun to be the best. If you are competitive you will work harder and be more likely to achieve your goals. Facing challenges independently makes us stronger and wiser. Also, when there are so many similar people in the world, you need to be brave and stand out in order to succeed.

Others think…

It is better to be a penguin. Humans would never have been able to build massive cities and create all the wonderful inventions we have today without working together. Besides, no one can have a happy and successful life without help from other people. We need family, friends and teachers to support us and help us achieve our best.

You Decide

  1. If you could be any animal, which would you be and why?


  1. Draw a lion and a penguin. Beneath each picture, make a list of the words and characteristics you can think of to describe that animal. How are they different from each other? Who do you think is best at surviving in the wild? Talk about your answers as a class.

Some People Say...

“It’s better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life.”

Elizabeth Kenny

What do you think?

Word Watch

Sir David Attenborough
The 92-year-old nature expert has narrated lots of TV documentaries about animals.
Be violent, or ready to attack others.
Wanting to be the winner and better than others around you.
Look at something in detail.
Work as a team.
A group of lions.
A group of penguins.

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