We used to think the wilderness was ruled by males – the lion “king of beasts,” the mighty bull elephant, and the large imposing baboon male.
But this documentary journeys to the African savannahs to reveal a very different story.
Mommy Wildest is a compelling, intimate portrait of three animal families where it’s the females that rule and mother who knows best. We enter the lives of fierce lion sisters, majestic elephant grandmothers, and regal baboon mothers who form sisterhoods to raise their families.
Lions, elephants, and baboons are matriarchies that are female-centric in different ways, for different reasons.
Lion mothers form ‘daycare centres’ to nurse their young and sisters band together to hunt for their families. It’s not the male who’s the bread-winner — it’s the female. Elephants are led by the eldest female who knows all the watering holes and strategies for survival. Her age and memory of how to survive the long dry season is key in a climate plagued by drought. Baboons have a female royal family where, surprisingly, it’s the youngest female who ascends to the throne.
Mommy Wildest is an intimate story – the ”days of our lives” of these families, with individual characters whose challenges we follow: the Ol Dikidiki pride of lionesses raising their 11 cubs; Donatella, the elephant grandmother who leads her family to safety from gunshots shielding them from danger, and bay Rijeka, the baboon princess surrounded by her sisters.
Mommy Wildest also follows the leading scientists in their field who’ve been asking: Why did these three societies evolve into matriarchies? What can humans learn from them?
Dr. Craig Packer IS the lion king. He’s the foremost lion expert in the world and has been studying lions for more than 40 years. In this film, he travels to Maasai Mara to visit one of the richest concentrations of lions left in the world, and to meet the Ol Dikidiki pride. It was Dr. Packer who determined why lionesses bond together in sisterhoods –it’s to defend against roving males who would kill their cubs and take over the pride. By working together, the sisters can defend against the much stronger male.
Dr. George Wittemyer is a world leader in elephant study. His work on orphaned elephants who were robbed of their mother through poaching is ground-breaking. It’s changed how we understand the complex and nuanced world of elephant societies.
Drs. Jeanne Altmann, Susan Alberts, and Elizabeth Archie lead the Amboseli Baboon Research Project which is one of the longest-running primate studies in the world. Their work on mother-infant relations has changed the way we see primates.
Filmed in Kenya, the documentary features spectacular cinematography and dramatic moments as it transports us into the heart of three families where the females shape the society...all in different ways.
An egalitarian sisterhood of lions who defends and hands down their territory to their daughters.
A congress of elephant grandmothers who pass down critical wisdom to their daughters for the sake of everyone's survival.
And a strict aristocracy of baboons that maintains order in a harsh landscape.
Three sisterhoods of the savannah, where the mothers rule, and the daughters inherit the wilderness.
Wildlife Film Consultant
Director of Photography
Original Music Composed by
Video Post Producer
Susan Reisler, Media Profile
Kudlow & McCann
Front Row Insurance
Amboseli Baboon Research Project
Elephant Watch Camp
Mara Lion Project
Save The Elephants
Sir Iain Douglas-Hamilton
Produced with the participation of Canadian Media Fund
Produced with the participation of Rogers Documentary Fund
Produced with the participation of The Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit
Ontario Film and Television Tax Credits
Produced by Grand Passage Media Inc., ©MW Project Inc.
General Manager, Programming
Executive Director, Unscripted Content
Senior Director, Documentary
Director of Production, Unscripted Content
Executive in Charge of Production
Director of Finance, Unscripted Content
The Nature of Things
with David Suzuki
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Produced in association with
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Visit our website to watch the series online, discover extra behind-the-scenes stories and view Canada's nature scenes in 360. Visit Wild Canadian Year