National Geographic’s ‘Secrets of the Elephants’ Examines the Desert’s Toughest Species

Kori Williams - Author

Mar. 20 2023, Published 11:14 a.m. ET

If you've ever heard anything about elephants, it may be that they are wise beyond their years, they never forget anything, and that they have emotions much like people. These large and revered animals have been on the planet for countless years, and are loved by cultures all over the world.

As a follow-up to the Emmy Award-winning National Geographic series Secrets of the Whales, we are now getting Secrets of the Elephants.

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Coming out in four parts, it is being released just in time for Earth Day 2023. Here's what we know about it so far.

Two elephants embracing on grass
Source: Getty Images
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What is 'Secrets Of The Elephants' about?

In Secrets of the Elephants, we learn all about the lives of these wise animals. We take a journey from Asia to Africa, to see them in their homes, and discover the ins and outs of their lives. In the first episode, viewers learn that elephants are pregnant for close to two years. And then after they're born, it takes the newborn calves six months to learn how to control the 50,000 muscles in their trunks.

The Namib Desert
Source: Getty Images
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Being executive produced by James Cameron, Secrets of the Elephants will be narrated by Natalie Portman. In a first look at her voiceover, we learn that part of this tough African Desert elephants live in is called the Namib Desert It has some of the harshest conditions on Earth and is one of the oldest deserts in the world. Temperatures can reach up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and drop to freezing at night.

Thanks to the climate crisis, the weather in the Namib Desert has only gotten more extreme. But that hasn't stopped these elephants from living in the area.

"The dry seasons are drier," Portman says in the voiceover. "Punctuated by ever more unpredictable rainstorms." But if there's anything elephants can do, it's impress. The voiceover goes on to call these animals "resilient" and says, "desert elephants are as tough as the landscape."

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'Secrets of the Elephants' will also feature conservationist Paula Kahumbu.

Paula Kahumbu has been working with National Geographic for years. Not only does she host and produce the documentary show Wildlife Warriors, but she's also won a number of awards for her work including the National Geographic Buffett Award for conservation leadership in Africa.

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Now, Kahumbu is giving us Secrets of the Elephant which makes sense since she literally wrote the book on it. In an Instagram post, she shows off the book of the same name calling it a "major personal achievement." It's a companion to the documentary series and is currently available for preorder.

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If the book is any indication, in the documentary series, we will also "meet the researchers and conservationists dedicating their time and risking their lives to understand and protect the world’s two species, African and Asian, as they share new insights into elephant culture," according to the book's description on Disney.

Secrets of the Elephants premieres on National Geographic on April 21, 2023. Collider says that you can stream it the next day on Disney Plus. The next installment of the Secrets of series will be Secrets of the Octopus but no release date has been given for that yet.

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