Children's wildlife documentary series. Zina, Koko and Gamba, three cheetah cubs growing up in the Masai Mara, are spotted by lions.
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The world is full of amazing animal families.
Tales of life and death happen every day.
For the youngest members, growing up is tough, really tough.
Their roller-coaster lives are recreated here on Wild Tales.
We follow three fantastic animal characters.
Newborn baby Zeb is going to have to learn how to hoof it.
With hundreds of miles to migrate,
he'll have to grow up fast.
Koda the wolf pup will have a dog's life
fighting for every scrap of food.
She's going to have to be tough if she's to become an ace in this pack.
And cheetah cubs Zina, Koko and Gamba start to learn about hunting,
whilst trying to avoid some fierce neighbours.
So where shall we start?
How about in the middle of Africa?
Slap on your sun cream, cos first up it's Kenya.
They say it's a jungle out there, but here in Kenya, that PLAIN-ly
Welcome to the grassy plains of Africa,
land of big cats, including the cheetahs.
Meet the triplets - sisters Zina and Koko,
and their brother Gamba.
Our trio of fluffballs are only eight weeks old.
They're new to the area - this is where Mum has brought them
to teach them everything they need to know to survive.
It's time for cheetah school!
At the moment they're more interested in playing.
Still, I guess you've got to start somewhere.
Zina seems to be the most adventurous of the cubs.
Tree climbing is the perfect opportunity to show off.
That looks like fun!
Her little sister Koko is never far behind, whilst brother Gamba
is quite content to take it easy and have a doze. Boys will be boys!
The troublesome trio
will soon have to start taking things more seriously.
Before they know it they will be CAT-apulted into adulthood.
These three little big cats have a wild time ahead of them.
Cheetahs are the coolest cats of all.
And boy, can these kitties move.
We'll come to the facts and figures later. For now, just try and keep up.
And that is what our cubs will have to learn how to do at cheetah school.
Being new here, one of the trio's first lessons
is getting to know the neighbours.
But it's harder than you might think.
The lions think they own the place.
The giraffes feel they are above everyone.
And the hyenas - well, they just laugh in your face - how rude!
So getting to know the neighbours is not so simple,
but over the next few weeks, cheetah school will get even tougher!
500 miles away in Tanzania, another African country, are our next family.
Meet our grassland grazers, the zebras.
Those grassy plains stretch on forever.
And there are lawnmowers.
No, not those lawnmowers -
And these ones have go-faster stripes...
Zebras live in family groups called bands,
to support each other.
And this band has one mean lead singer.
It's Zeb's dad!
A few hundred metres away from Dad is Zeb himself.
He was only born last night and is just a few hours old.
Amazingly, although he's just a baby, he's already on his feet,
which is just as well, cos those legs have a tough job ahead of them.
Zeb and Mum have separated from the band for a good reason.
She can't stand his dad's singing (!)
Perhaps she's more of a White Stripes kinda girl.
But seriously, the reason Mum left the band to be on her own
was for Zeb to get to know her really well
before he meets the rest of his family.
We're very lucky to get to see baby Zeb. But for now, even though
he's just a baby, he has a job to do.
Zeb needs to learn what Mum smells like, and more importantly,
to learn the pattern of her stripes.
Every zebra's stripes are different,
just like barcodes at the supermarket.
If Zeb learns his mum's patterns of stripes by heart,
he'll always be able to recognize her.
This may take some time,
so let's leave him to it!
Next, we're off to northern Canada,
a third of the way round the planet.
This part of Canada is really tough to live in.
Winter temperatures can drop to minus 30 degrees centigrade.
Lucky for this family they have a thick fur coat to keep them warm.
And not surprisingly, they choose to have their babies
in a cosy underground den.
These wolf cubs are just weeks old,
and were blind until a few days ago.
They are just getting used to their surroundings, and each other.
This little girl cub is called Koda,
a Native American word for friend.
For now, she's a friendly little soul.
But just wait till she grows up!
For now, Koda and her brothers and sisters
are still feeding on milk from their mum.
But soon enough they'll be wolfing down meat like...a wolf.
Just like Zeb and the cheetah triplets,
Koda is dependent on Mum.
But Koda is already a real character.
She's a feisty little pup.
For now, all is cosy and safe in the den with Mum.
But Koda had better make the most of it, cos it's a wilderness out there.
Back to the African plains, and playtime is over.
Today's lesson is how to look cool at school.
You may have noticed that Koko, Zina and Gamba
are sporting some spiffing hairdos.
All baby cheetah cubs have these wispy Mohicans along their backs -
that long hair helps provide perfect camouflage in the long grass.
If they keep still, they are virtually invisible.
Ideal for games of hide and seek,
and a great way of hiding from any predators.
This means that Mum is able to leave the cubs and go off hunting,
which is exactly what she's decided to do.
Although the cubs aren't yet eating meat, Mum must catch food for herself
so that she can keep fit and strong
and produce enough milk for the threesome.
Pay attention, cubs - Mum's about to show you what it's all about.
She is the Ferrari of the cat world and can reach speeds of up to 70mph.
That's almost three times faster than a person can run.
Just look at her go!
Her claws act like running spikes gripping the ground,
and that terrific tail helps her keep balance on those tight corners.
And it's all over.
Give that cat a round of applause!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
The cubs will have to learn how to sprint like this,
but for now they have many other lessons to master first.
They have a tough few months ahead of them,
where Mum will try and teach them everything she knows.
Back in Tanzania,
Zeb's mum has decided it's time for him to meet the rest of his family.
Within a herd of zebras, there are separate family groups called bands.
Zeb's band is one big family of nearly 20 zebras.
There are several other females in the band,
many will soon have foals -
but there are also other zebras of all different ages.
Baby Zeb has to get to know them all.
If he thought learning Mum's stripes was bad,
he now has to learn to recognise all of his aunts, uncles and cousins.
That's Auntie Flo, Uncle Derek...
No, that's Uncle Derek.
But most important of all he needs to learn who his dad is,
because he's got a rather important job -
the leader of the whole band.
There'll be no horsing around while he's in charge.
Zeb will have to learn this quickly.
Where his dad guides them, the whole band have to go,
or they'll know about it - he isn't in charge for nothing.
Without him, Zeb would be even more vulnerable
to attacks from all sorts of predators.
He'd make an ideal takeaway for some of the neighbours.
But Dad can't always be there to protect him.
Zeb IS still just a baby,
and he's going to be really vulnerable over the next few weeks.
Back in Canada, Koda and the other pups are still safe in the den.
But Mum is getting hungry.
No offence to our zebra family, but she could eat a horse.
She is what's known as the alpha female,
and is the only one in the pack allowed to have pups.
All the others are out on a hunt with Koda's dad, the alpha male.
He really is top dog, and all the other members of the pack know it.
They have been hunting for a few days without any success,
but he is on the trail of prey.
Wolves can cover the equivalent of two or three marathons -
up to 70 miles in a day.
They are also pretty fast, reaching a super-speedy 40 miles per hour.
That'd be breaking the speed limit in most towns.
Unless Dad and the pack find some food soon,
Koda's mum will run out of milk and the pups will die.
Koda and the others are helpless at this age,
so Mum has to stay with them.
Predators such as bears have already emerged from hibernation.
Mum knows from experience it's far too risky to leave her pups.
Last year she lost some to a hungry bear when she left them alone.
The bear found her den, and when she returned the pups were all gone.
She will just have to wait for the pack to return.
Koda's life is depending on it.
Back to the plains of Africa, and school's out for our cheetah family.
All schools have break time, and cheetah school is no different.
Having a mum who's also your teacher may be tough,
but it has its advantages - especially at break time!
Our threesome are just getting a taste for meat,
but will continue suckling until they are three months old.
The cubs are still completely dependent on Mum.
Not only do the cubs need feeding, they need cleaning.
Gamba is always first in line when pampering is on offer.
Looks like Mum's got bathtime licked.
But in Africa the weather can change within hours.
Perhaps Mum didn't need to give the cubs a bath after all!
Now they're having a shower!
But like all cats they're not too keen on water,
especially when it's cold. Brrr!
The poor cubs! They have only just started at school
and they're already cold, wet and miserable.
What a soggy mess!
Let's hope the rain doesn't last too long
so they can return to lessons.
# Why does it always rain on...? #
A few hundred miles away, it's a different story.
It's getting drier by the day
and the grass is starting to die away.
Zeb is growing up fast.
At least he doesn't have to hunt for his food.
He's surrounded by it!
But for how much longer?
He's really steady on his feet now, but little does he know
just how much he's going to have to depend on those legs.
Zeb has become used to his band,
and now knows and recognises everyone in his new family.
He's still completely dependent on Mum,
and will continue to suckle from her until he is 9 months old.
But despite this close bond, he's starting to explore a bit
and stray away more.
He's getting to know the neighbourhood,
and some of the odd characters his family live alongside.
Watch out for that python, Zeb!
These early games and experiences are all vital for Zeb's development.
But he needs to remember he's still just a foal.
Zeb has to get used to moving on with the band wherever they go.
And just because it's night, it doesn't mean they stop travelling.
Night-time is a scary time for Zeb.
His band are being followed by hyenas.
Dad is quickly on the case, chasing those horrible hyenas away.
But while he's busy, his family is vulnerable.
Being so young, Zeb is especially at risk.
Dad doesn't give up until the hyenas back off.
Zeb should be safe for now, but those hyenas could be back.
Back with our cheetahs, the lessons are getting harder.
Mum has to teach the trio how to deal with prey.
It's the hardest lesson yet,
and they'd better listen up -
their lives will depend on it.
Mum has caught a gazelle fawn and is bringing it back, still alive,
to show the cubs what they will have to hunt for food.
It may look mean, but Mum has to teach them somehow
or they'll never learn.
But just look at this!
The cubs are terrified!
Koko decides to back off and even the pluckier Zina
looks as if she'd rather go vegetarian.
But a cheetah eating grass, just like Zeb,
wouldn't be right, would it?
As it's the first time they've seen live prey this close,
our cubs can be forgiven for failing the test.
But - being scared of your own food?!
Will these scaredy-cats ever make the grade?
Looks like Mum will have to try again.
This time she has spotted a fawn, and is leading the cubs to it.
Maybe that won't scare them so much.
Zina is first in as always, but...!
She hasn't even SEEN the fawn, and look at her bounce up!
Maybe we should re-name her Tigger.
So not exactly "A" grades all round for the cubs.
Our troublesome trio are barely scraping a pass at hunting school.
Perhaps more homework is in order!
Wrap up warm, cos we're heading back to icy Canada.
Koda and her mum are still waiting
for the others to return from their hunt.
She's nearly run out of milk as she hasn't eaten in days.
Koda and the others are really hungry now.
So where are Dad and the rest of the pack?
Well, they are out trying to get some food.
Dad knows the pups are depending on them.
They're hunting for caribou - which are actually reindeer.
Santa would turn in his sleigh!
They've been following the herd for days now,
and Dad has picked out a weak animal as the target.
Because Dad is the alpha male, all the other wolves follow his orders.
If he says "run", they run.
If he says "howl", they howl.
If he says "Gimme five", well, then he must be barking!
Back to the hunt,
and, once a weak animal is singled out,
the pack separate it from the herd,
which involves all the wolves cooperating
and basically rounding the prey up.
It's a bit like the way sheepdogs work.
Just don't tell the wolves that!
But let's get serious now.
The pack need to make this kill.
Dad and the pack have closed in on the caribou they singled out.
Just one kick from those hooves
could break bones and result in death.
But perseverance pays off...
..and the pack have been successful.
This is plenty of food to last them for days,
but they need to get some of the food back to Koda's mum fast,
so that she can keep producing enough milk for the pups.
Koda's dad had better hurry back to the den before it's too late.
Back to the plains of Africa, and it's looking more like a desert.
The hyenas seem to have disappeared, but so has the grass!
It's time for the zebras to move on.
This is Zeb's biggest test, the start of the great annual migration.
Even though he's still a baby, he is going to have to walk
for the next few weeks every day until he's covered over 500 miles.
Just imagine a toddler walking 20 marathons on the trot!
Although the rains in Tanzania do fall mainly on the plain,
unfortunately they don't stay in one place.
This is why the zebras have to move on - they follow the rains,
because as soon as the rain moves on, the grass dies.
It's time for the band to roll out.
Dad guides them, taking up the rear,
whilst Zeb stays close to his mum.
As they head off, Zeb's mum ensures he is safe within the herd
so that if they are attacked, he'll be more protected.
I say, "IF they are attacked".
Crossing hundreds of miles of the dangerous plains
they will face all sorts of predators and challenges,
so attacks are inevitable.
Only half of all zebra foals survive these attacks.
A baby zebra's survival is on the flip of a coin.
As a vulnerable young foal,
Zeb has a long and very dangerous journey ahead of him.
Over the next few weeks, every step he takes
will be watched by hungry eyes.
The rains have moved on and Koko, Zina and Gamba
have dried out and are doing well.
This is despite being the most vulnerable of the big cats.
You just have to look at their build.
It may give them speed and agility
to tackle the fastest prey in the Mara,
but it also makes them the lightweights of the big cat posse.
The real heavyweights are the lions,
who would easily kill a cheetah if they caught it.
Not good news, then, that Mum has spotted one approaching.
There is nowhere to hide out here, so there is little Mum can do.
She knows that if the lion gets to her cubs, it WILL kill them.
Koko has seen the lion too.
She's decided to run away.
But Zina and Gamba look terrified and are frozen to the spot.
This could be a fatal mistake.
Why aren't Zina and Gamba running?
The lion has spotted the cubs.
If he catches them, he'll kill them.
Our cubs need to get away from that lion - fast!
But hang on. Just look at their mum.
How brave! She's squaring up to that lion, and showing him who's boss.
If the lion catches her, he will kill her too.
That is one top mum!
The lion's charging after her, but Mum manages to avoid him.
The cubs are running for their lives.
What IS Mum going to do?
She managed to distract the lion away from her cubs,
but why's he still hanging around?
For now the cubs are reunited with Mum.
They're so relieved, but very nervous, and rightly so.
Our cheetah family have strayed right into lion territory.
As long as they stay here, the whole family are in mortal danger.
The lion could attack at any moment,
and we know what he'll do if he catches them.
The odds are really stacked against them now.
Next time on Wild Tales:
Will our trio of cheetah youngsters Zina, Koko and Gamba,
avoid their hungry lion neighbours?
Koda the wolf pup may be safe for now,
but will the pack be able to keep up the food supply?
And on his first migration followed by predators,
will baby Zeb manage to survive?
Find out next time on Wild Tales.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Children's wildlife documentary series. Zina, Koko and Gamba, three cheetah cubs growing up in the Masai Mara, are spotted by lions. On the other side of the African plains is Zeb, a new born baby zebra, who is subject to many dangers on his first migration. In northern Canada, Koda the wolf cub lives in a den with her mum, butdoes the pack have enough food?