BBC breaks Attenborough’s golden rule… twice

On the edge: Emperor penguin populations are stable worldwide, while lion numbers are in decline.

Should nature documentaries save the lives of the animals they film? David Attenborough has always said that he will not change the course of nature. Yet the crew of Dynasties did just that.

What’s happening

David Attenborough has been filming nature documentaries for more than 50 years. In all that time he has had one strict rule: do not interfere with nature.

However, the BBC crew filming Dynasties have now broken that rule twice.

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It first happened when a group of emperor penguins became trapped in an icy ravine. They would die if they were left there for too long, so the crew dug an escape route.

“I think it was the right thing to do,” said the BBC’s Mike Gunton.

In the episode about lions released last weekend, a cub is poisoned by humans. His mother is forced to leave him behind. This time, the crew called emergency vets to try to save his life.

Did they do the right thing?

Some say…

Of course! Lions and emperor penguins could become endangered species. Humans are mostly to blame for this. It would be wrong for the BBC to watch animals die without helping.

Others think…

As Attenborough once said: “Tragedy is a part of life […] You can’t have sunshine throughout your life.” His shows are made to educate us. Getting involved in nature would distort the truth.

You Decide

  1. Is it ever okay to let an animal die without helping?


  1. Watch this short clip of the BBC crew helping the trapped penguins. Imagine you were there. Write a short diary entry explaining how you felt when some of the birds were saved.

Some People Say...

“No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”

David Attenborough

What do you think?

Word Watch

Factual TV shows or films.
Try to change a situation.
Ruling families. In this case, the word refers to well-known animal species.
A narrow valley with steep sides.
At risk of extinction.
Disaster, suffering.
Twist out of shape.

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