This past weekend, I was reminded of how curious young children are and how the wonders of God's creation are something really quite spectacular for them - and for big kids like me - to behold.
While babysitting for three young sisters, I was asked by the middle child to play a game while we were still finishing a meal at the dinner table. "Who Am I?" was the name, and I wasn't quite sure what it was all about at first. In this family's version of the game, animals are the topic of choice. The first player gives a few clues to describe and then asks "Who am I?"
I must admit that I had no idea what animal this young child was talking about while listening to her: "I live in Australia. I'm a mammal. And I happen to lay eggs. Who am I?" Uhhh, right. A mammal that lays eggs? Mmmkay. ... I really should brush up on my Animal Planet skills. (Interestingly enough, shows on Animal Planet are what these three sisters enjoy watching. They are truly fascinated and love learning about God's amazing creatures.)
Well, it turns out that the animal I was supposed to guess was one I'd never heard of. In fact I still can't remember what it was as I'm typing this, but I think it started with an "e." The middle child was very articulate when describing this particular creature and had recalled a great deal of information about its origin and habitat.
Guess I'll need to watch more of Animal Planet. Or maybe Animal Planet's sister channel, Discovery Channel, which is premiering a new 11-part high definition TV event this coming Sunday called "Planet Earth."
It promises to show "the beauty of God's creation through never-before-seen animals, animal behaviors and landscapes." I was a little skeptical when I first read the media materials. But after watching the clips from various episodes (provided below for you), I am definitely intrigued and will tune in to watch.
Now, parents, please take caution. It would probably be a good idea to preview the episodes before young children are allowed to watch. Without having seen the entire series, it's hard to know how scary some of the animals or their encounters might be. So use your best judgment, as dads and moms know best what's appropriate for their children.
In the meantime, here's a taste of some of the wonders you'll see in this series:
- Polar bears emerging from hibernation with newborn cubs in tow
- More than 100 Sailfish hunting together (it's rare to see even one)
- The world's deepest cave shaft at 1,300 feet (The Cave of Swallows in Mexico)
- Under the ice of the world's largest lake – Siberia's Lake Baikal which is frozen for five months of the year
- The Gobi Desert in the middle of winter, covered in snow
- The never-before-filmed Blue Bird of Paradise performing a mating ritual
Now this is no shabby production, my friend. It took five years to make "Planet Earth." In addition to Discovery Channel, the series is also produced by the BBC and more than 70 camera operators spent over 2,000 days in the field to document nature's greatest spectacles.
And it doesn't sound like this was a five-star vacation experience for the filmmakers either. Here are some examples of what they endured:
- In Mexico's Cave of Swallows, the crew descended 1,300 feet on a single rope no thick than a finger, taking more than 30 minutes just to reach the bottom
- More than 300 hours of film were logged before capturing the never-before-filmed 90-second Blue Bird of Paradise mating ritual
- An American cameraman spent frustrating hours crawling around Tibetan soil looking for foxes never before caught on film
- Weeks into their Himalayan shoot, a crew filmed the first-ever up-close image of the elusive snow leopard
Are you intrigued yet? If you want to whet your appetite even more, watch these clips of upcoming "Planet Earth" episodes:
"Planet Earth" is narrated by award-winning actress and conservationist Sigourney Weaver and premieres this Sunday night, March 25, 2007 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery Channel. For more information, click here.
Photo courtesy Discover Channel/BBC/X. Zhi Nong