BBC America is organizing an entire four-day schedule for the celebration of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary. The center of the program is She Walks With Apes, a snapshot into the lives of pioneering women ape scientists and activists Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas.
Directed By Sandra Oh
Every woman has taught our closest animal ancestors more about the environment. The British Goodall lived in Africa with chimpanzees, while the American Fossey was killed while defending mountain gorillas in Rwanda, while the Canadian Galdikas spent time in Borneo with orangutans. The documentary is directed by Sandra Oh of Killing Eve and filmed by the Caitlin and Starowicz teams of the father-daughter.
This is the fantastic story of three people on a lifelong journey to study and to preserve the closest relatives to humanity: the great apes. That’s the other big apes. After all, people are part of the same culture. 96% of our DNA is shared with other species since we shared everyday ancestors millions of years ago.
King Of The Forest
The chimpanzee is our nearest relative, the gorilla, and eventually, the “king of the forest,” as the magnificent orangutan in Borneo is called. We share many behavioral patterns and personality traits, but we knew nothing about the great apes half a century ago, aside from what we saw in King Kong or Tarzan movies.
Three young women changed all that, and much more. American Dian Fossey, who championed the mountain gorillas in Romania, and even though she had reached a tragic end, made her cause legendary, as well as American Biruté Galdikas, who went into the deepest jungles in Borneo to live among the chimpanzees of Tanzania. They became known as the Trimates and were celebrated in national geography and films.
Growing crossed the line from pure science to enthusiastic support. And, when their narratives all began decades earlier, in isolation, their collaborative research opened the world’s eyes to the wonder of the great apes, the plight of their dwindling rainforest ecosystems, and the condition of the earth as a whole.
The Trimates also became influential models for a generation of young women around the world, many of whom were motivated to be members of our ancestral relatives as scholars, scientists, and ardent defenders. The documentary is not just about the pioneering generation but also about the experiences of three young people inspired by the Trimates in making the same choice for living with the great apes of Africa and Borneo.