Into the Wild New Zealand (2022) s01e01 Episode Script

A Tale of Two Penguins

NARRATOR: As the sun
sets over the south pacific,
a small flock of
penguins gathers
off the coast of New Zealand.
Two are about to
embark on a journey
that will change their destiny.
One belongs to an
upmarket neighborhood
of condominiums and parties.
For the other, home is
a penguin shantytown
on the dark side of the
city, where life is hard.
Both have the same goals
Find a mate, settle
down, raise a family.
But to achieve them,
they must survive.
A small city named oamaru
sits in the New Zealand
south island's coastline.
A simple and
homely place buffeted
by the frigid pacific ocean.
It's late August,
and springtime is
struggling to gain a foothold.
Even cold-adapted species
such as the New Zealand fur seal
are ready for the winter to end.
For the animals here,
life is about to begin anew.
They are all waiting
for breeding season.
Night falls.
One of the region's most
iconic animals makes its debut
A little penguin.
Living up to its name,
it's just a foot tall
and three pounds in weight.
The little penguin is smallest
of all the penguin species.
Thanks to their slate blue
plumage, these penguins are
commonly known as little blues.
Tonight, the little blues
are arriving by the dozens,
all of them driven
to return to the place
where they were hatched.
Two males named
tybalt and Curtis have
ventured up this beach before.
Their lifelong partners are
still somewhere out at sea.
Before the females
return, the males
must find a nesting
spot for them,
a place that is safe and
secure for hatching eggs.
Success in mating
hinges on this.
The pressure is on.
But first, there's
the beach to cross.
Little blues are much
more comfortable
in the company of others,
known as a raft of penguins.
They can all scurry up the beach
together in a waddling horde.
Tybalt and Curtis are
well-adapted for a life at sea.
But on land, they're
ungainly and vulnerable.
There are many dangers ahead,
so they rely on safety in numbers.
Tybalt keeps low and rushes
forward in fits and starts
as though he's an
unwelcome intruder
storming a foreign coastline.
But these penguins have
been nesting in this area
for hundreds of years.
This is their home.
And tonight is the start
of something special.
The tide pushing tybalt
and Curtis landward
is the primal urge to breed.
The same little
blue penguins return
to this area to breed every
year, a behavior known
as philopatry
A love of home.
One of their favorite spots
is here among the rubble
of a decommissioned quarry.
The boulders provide
them with the nooks
and crannies they need to
create safe nesting spots.
So many little blues
nest here that it's
become a tourist destination.
The species is in
decline, so park rangers
have built special
nest boxes for the birds
to help the colony grow.
Today, more than 300
nest boxes dot the area.
The penguins that
make it to the refuge
will be living the high life.
While tybalt and Curtis take
shelter among the rocks
An obstacle crawls
into their path
A New Zealand fur seal.
They can weigh more
than 300 pounds
100 times heavier
than a little blue.
Fur seals eat
small fish and squid,
but penguin can
also be on the menu.
Tybalt and Curtis
must run the gauntlet
past the resting giant.
They make it and rush into
the protection of the refuge,
hoping to find nest
boxes to call home.
Some of these penguins may
have been at sea for months.
Coming ashore, they quickly
find their feet and gather stride.
They enthusiastically
waddle into the refuge.
This time of year, there's
always a rush for real estate.
Most males begin their
nest building just a few
days before the females arrive.
Every nest box is up for grabs.
Tybalt has found
an empty nest box.
But first, it must be won
from his fellow traveler, Curtis.
These penguins may
have journeyed together,
come ashore together,
but they have no bonds.
All that matters tonight
is the season's nest.
Only one can win.
Tybalt's partner,
Ivy, won't be happy
if she arrives and there's no
home sweet home to nest in.
He wastes no time
in seeing off Curtis.
Tybalt will be keeping
one eye open for threats
while he searches for
the leaves, branches,
and bark that make up his nest.
Unable to secure a
nest box for himself,
Curtis wanders off
into the darkness
to search for his own home
somewhere beyond the refuge.
He finds himself on the
mean streets of town
A dangerous place
for little penguins,
but a necessity when the
condos of the refuge are all taken.
All along the shore,
hundreds of males
diligently gather and
build in anticipation
of their females' arrival.
But for these birds, a
reunion is by no means certain.
Many a partner is lost to
the deep blue sea each year.
A wait can become a
vigil as a long-lost mate
fails to make landfall
one night after another.
Tybalt is getting ready, but
he may be preening for nothing.
Ivy, his partner of
the past few seasons,
may be a part of a love story
that's end is already written.
His call begets no
reply from the refuge.
It's going to be another
long, lonely night,
but not as long and lonely
as the night will be for Curtis.
He's been forced into town
to look for a nesting place.
It's a dangerous road to travel.
There are many
potential hiding spots,
but he's just one little
penguin in a threatening city.
There are rats,
cars, and people,
all considerable
dangers to a little blue.
When it is time
to bed down, he's
got nothing to
show for his search,
and must see out the night
hoping the barest of shadows
will hide him from the world.
A new day in oamaru.
The penguin refuge lies
quiet, as if abandoned.
Even during courtship season,
almost all of the penguins
will return to the sea
for a day of fishing.
Curtis made it through the
night and manages to make
it out for a fishing trip, too.
Little blues are coastal
hunters and don't travel far.
Tracking studies show
they swim fewer than 12
and 1/2 miles from shore.
They keep to shallow water,
where they feed on sardines,
squid, and crustaceans.
When night falls,
the penguins must
once again face
the beach to get back
to the safety of their Burrows.
Curtis emerges from the
waves with a confederate
His girlfriend, Rose.
They met as soon as they were
old enough to mate and have
been partners ever since.
This will be their
third season together,
the third time they have climbed
the beach to make a home.
But this time, there's
no room at the comfy inn.
And they'll be sleeping
somewhere in the city.
Curtis and Rose flit
from shadow to shadow
as they and the other urban
refugees search for a home.
Where to find a
safe spot to lay?
Rushing from one
hiding spot to another,
these little penguins must
be immeasurably cautious.
In the refuge, many of
the males are still waiting.
They fuss and work
on their nests to kill time.
A wave of females
pours through the gaps
into the refuge
to find their mates.
The sight of the females
brings all the males
to their stoops to call out.
They wait to see if their
partner is among the females
coursing through the refuge.
Little blues have
distinctive calls
and can recognize
each other's voices,
so the females are all
ears, listening for the braying,
welcoming call
of their partners.
When two penguins reunite,
a courtship dance begins.
The single males wait
like wallflowers at a dance,
eager to join the party.
This young male shows
off his homemaking skills,
but this female doesn't
seem interested.
Tybalt is homemaking
too, but is still alone,
dutifully lining an empty nest.
He waits for Ivy to
emerge from the gloom.
Curtis and Rose are in a
maze of alleys and laneways,
searching for a
safe place to live.
But Rose will go no further.
They'll have to eke out
a home on the streets
of town, a perilous existence.
A ventilation gap
offers inviting darkness.
It may be a possible
nesting place.
But there's a smell here.
This close to the coastline
and human habitation,
the scent of ship rats
lingers in the breeze.
Rats would devour
their eggs in a heartbeat.
They cannot stay here.
They must push on.
While Curtis and Rose
scamper through skid row,
tybalt remains alone
But not for lack of attention.
More than one single
female has her eye
on tybalt.
This one tries to
lure the bachelor out
with her sultry call.
Another looks on with interest.
If the first female fails, the
second might try her chances.
Like so many males,
tybalt finds it hard to resist
the call of a lustful female.
He bashfully emerges
for an introduction.
But no, she's not like Ivy.
He'll continue with his
nest making until she comes.
Nearby, other penguin
couples are already
well into the mating routine.
Courtship begins
with a penguin dance.
With flippers held
erect and back,
they almost go
arm in arm as they
spin to their hearts' delight.
By the time they begin to
mate, the couple is all aflutter.
In a city alleyway,
Curtis and Rose
want nothing more than to
return to the safety of darkness.
Little blue penguins
have not evolved to live
their lives under lights.
But deep inside, there's an
urge that pushes them forward
through the threatening town.
Somewhere beyond the lights
is a safe place to start a new life.
Curtis has made it through
the built up sections of town
and arrived in an older
area where streetlights
are few and far between.
In the cool, enveloping
dark, Curtis begins to relax.
This shed could become a fine
nesting spot for him and Rose.
Except Rose is
nowhere to be seen.
The couple became separated
in the journey through town.
He calls for her
Then decides to
venture in alone.
It's a timeworn
blacksmith's shop,
full of the nooks and crannies
that nesting penguins favor.
But a penguin's hiding spot
can also be a predator's lair.
Curtis is alone and
unsure if this place is safe.
He calls again for Rose.
Finally, she appears.
She can hear him, but
doesn't know how to get to him.
But she's not about
to give up easily.
She greets him as excitedly
as the dramatic reunions
after months at sea.
For Curtis and Rose, their
calls reaffirm a relationship
that will last a lifetime.
Now to find a nesting
spot in the shed.
Once they have mated, egg
laying will only be a week away.
They need a close
and protected space
for the chicks
A place where they
will not be disturbed.
All of the action in
the penguin compound
is only making
things worse for tybalt.
His courtship cry goes
up again and again as he
calls for his long-lost Ivy.
His pining isn't helped by the
amorous older male next door,
who's found
himself a new lady
A much younger one, too.
At eight years,
this little blue has
reached a ripe old age, though
one penguin here in the refuge
is 23.
Older penguins breed
more successfully
than the young ones,
probably because they
are better hunters.
But this mature gentleman may
not have quite the same stamina
as other nearby newlyweds.
The little blues are the
noisiest of all penguins.
And from among the raucous
calls, tybalt hears something.
It's a voice he recognizes.
He calls back.
And from out of
the dark night, Ivy!
Neither of these
partners can tell
the other where
they've been and what
they've seen for the past year.
But their joy at reuniting
seems undeniable.
Their glossy coats,
the tone of their call,
and their body posture
communicate that they're still
healthy and ready to breed.
Once Ivy is fertilized, they
both will return to the sea.
A final chance to build up
their stores before the eggs
come and parenting begins.
Sunset one week later.
The town's foreshore has been
quiet while the penguins have
been away, their last big
journey before a hectic two
months of parenting.
Curtis and Rose have
been at sea for days.
They've been hunting
beyond the breakers.
But for Rose, it's time,
and both return to the nest.
Their commute back to the
shed remains the final obstacle
to starting their new family.
Here in the pitch
black, it feels safe.
And Rose lays an egg.
For almost a month,
the parents will tend it,
taking turns between
feeding at sea
and keeping the
egg warm and safe.
They groom each other
to reaffirm their bond
before they bed down to sleep
And huddle against the night.
Back at the beach,
the sound of danger
is creeping through
the penguin refuge.
Ivy, tybalt, and the other
penguins are on edge.
It's the sound of an
Australian possum
calling out from
the dark, declaring
the refuge as his territory.
It's unlikely to hurt a grown
penguin, but it can eat eggs.
To the defenseless little
blues, any intruder is a threat.
Their calls of alarm rise
up like a mournful chorus.
Ivy has already
laid her egg, so there
is little that she can do.
It's too late to seek
better protection.
Tybalt tries to draw
the possum away,
but the possum doesn't want him.
Just a broken board
separates Ivy and the possum.
Ivy hold still in fear.
But the possum
doesn't want her, either.
It moves on.
Ivy and tybalt and their
single egg are safe for now.
Almost a month later,
Rose's egg is soon to hatch.
She waits and rests.
Curtis has been gone
for four days now,
the longest he has
ever left Rose alone.
Hunger is gnawing at her.
It is now her time to hunt.
But with nobody to
watch over the egg for her,
there's little she can do.
Her calls sound frantic.
It's evening, the time
when Curtis should
return from his hunting trip.
An hour creeps by, and nothing.
Rose's situation is desperate.
The egg can't be left alone.
It needs her warmth
and protection.
But she needs to eat.
She breaks every rule
in the book of motherhood
and goes in search of Curtis.
To take this drastic step, her
hunger must be overwhelming.
She travels as far as
she dares and calls again.
Curtis is nowhere to be seen.
A penguin has slim odds of
bringing up a chick on its own.
It typically takes 34 days
before a little blue penguin
egg hatches, and
another 26 before the chick
can be left on its own.
Without Curtis,
this little blue family
is almost certainly doomed.
Little blue penguins in the
wild have just a 50-50 chance
of surviving their first year.
And without a father, Rose's
egg won't even get those odds.
But their luck is
about to change.
Curtis has returned.
He's injured, but alive.
He may have been hurt
in the water or on land.
But regardless, he has
come back to his family.
Two months later
in the refuge, there's
a new member of the family.
Tybalt and Ivy have a
plump, healthy chick.
Lucky for this young
penguin, the oamaru
refuge has an
incredible breeding
success rate of more than 70%.
So this is one of
the safest places
in the world for a little
blue to be hatched.
In the city beyond, Curtis
and Rose also have a chick.
It's thriving despite its
parents' tough journey
to get here.
These birds may be the
smallest and weakest of their kind,
but little blues are
nothing if not tenacious.
Their strength is the
enduring bond they share.
As each couple nestles
down for another night together,
they are laying the foundation
for yet another generation
of little blue penguins.
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