‘Nature’ explains what females want, men do

  • By Kathy Blumenstock The Washington Post
  • Tuesday, April 1, 2008 9:42pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

In nature, “females rule the roost, and males will do almost anything they can to please them,” said filmmaker Kevin Bachar.

His two-part documentary, “What Females Want and What Males Will Do,” airing 8 p.m. Sunday and April 13 on KCTS Channel 9, explores sexual selection in the animal world by chronicling the rituals and rites of courtship among species as varied as baboons and lizards.

The program, part of the PBS “Nature” series, required almost six months of pre-production to locate wildlife experts and coordinate filming schedules with them.

His team wanted to include a study of birds, he said, “because birds are always stunning” to view, “and we wanted to have a fun time while getting across the message of great science.”

Filmed on location in Africa, South America, Australia, California, Montana and New Orleans, the program includes close-up footage of a wriggling mass of male garter snakes in a piling-on ritual that results in mating, and offers a frank discussion in clinical terms about a male duck’s reproductive organ.

The broadcast is narrated by actor F. Murray Abraham, whose spare delivery is peppered with dryly humorous moments.

Featured animals include a trio of side-blotched lizards in their group approach to mating; capuchin monkeys beating sticks on trees, drumming out their mating calls; and male sage grouse displaying their full plumage while prancing for approval from an automated decoy.

The robotic female is a small electronic device. Actual sage grouse skin and feathers conceal its hidden video camera.

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