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03.19.2019

SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL UNVEILS A SIMIAN SOAP OPERA IN A LIFE AMONG MONKEYS

NEW SPECIAL EXPLORING THE LONGEST CONTINUOUS MONKEY STUDY OF ALL TIME PREMIERES WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24 AT 9PM ET/PT

 

NEW YORK – March 19, 2019 Smithsonian Channel will introduce viewers to a class-conscious community of Sri Lankan monkeys in a new documentary to air during the network’s Wild Wednesday lineup. The one-hour special draws upon the remarkable work of Dr. Wolfgang Dittus, who has spent over 50 years studying the charismatic toque macaques of Sri Lanka, constituting the longest continuous monkey study in the world. Centered in the stunning ancient kingdom ruins of Polonnaruwa, A LIFE AMONG MONKEYS reveals trials and tribulations of life in the intricate social order of toque macaques, documented for the first time thanks to Dr. Dittus’ pioneering work, and forces us to reevaluate what we thought we knew about primate societies. A LIFE AMONG MONKEYS premieres Wednesday, April 24 at 9 PM ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel.

 

Dr. Wolfgang Dittus arrived in Sri Lanka in 1968, sent by the Smithsonian Institution to study a tribe of toque macaques for 18 months, but his fascination with these charming primates has kept him following them to this day. Over the course of his 50-plus years observing these monkeys, Dr. Dittus has uncovered a real life soap opera, charting the relationships, shifting allegiances and rigid hierarchies present within the community. He has recorded the lives of over 5,000 individual monkeys, identifying them via their unique facial markings and naming them in order to better follow their personal journeys – queen bee Maya outranks even her elders, while Fayuum provides back-up for his brothers in physical skirmishes, and maternal Pointa cares for orphaned babies in need of protection.

 

A LIFE AMONG MONKEYS presents this unique and groundbreaking study from the firsthand viewpoint of Dr. Dittus, interspersed with previously unseen archival footage taken over the course of his work. His vantage point shows the dramatic changes that have encircled this simian community, as their ancient forest home continues to shrink with manmade structures and settlements encroaching further and further.

 

A LIFE AMONG MONKEYS is produced by Terra Mater Factual Studios GmbH and Smithsonian Networks. Martin Meszaros is executive producer for Terra Mater. Tria Thalman and David Royle serve as executive producers for Smithsonian Channel.