'David the Chimp' from David Attenborough's show 'Dynasties' found beaten to death
English broadcasting legend David Attenborough has given the world incredible nature documentaries, from Planet Earth to Blue Planet to his latest show, Dynasties. On this program, the 92-year-old examines the lives of five animal "families," as they fight to survive in the natural world. The series tracks the lives of tigers, lions, hunting dogs, emperor penguins and chimpanzees, which sounds cute, but nothing is sugarcoated. The aim is to show how the animal's smallest choices can lead to success or failure.
"For the past four years, we've been filming some of the most celebrated yet endangered species of animal on Earth," says Attenborough in the video teaser. "We join each family at a crucial moment in their lives, when the future of their dynasty hangs in the balance," says. "We didn't know how these stories would unfold. Would they end in triumph or tragedy?" (Well, don't say he didn't warn you!)
Last weekend's episode focused on the chimpanzees, introducing David, the dominant leader of the troupe. As the alpha male, the other primates bring him everything he needs, but he can't trust anyone. As Attenborough states in the voice-over narration, "He's surrounded by rivals prepared to kill him for his crown." And that's exactly what happened, just months after the Dynasties crew stopped filming. David the Chimp was found dead by researchers in Fongoli, an unbearably hot section of savanna in Senegal, West Africa.
Jill Pruetz, a director of the Fongoli Savannah Chimpanzee Project, confirmed the brutal truth during an interview with The Telegraph. "He died from wounds inflicted from what I'm sure are these young males," she stated. "There aren't other animals that would have inflicted wounds like that - especially when you have multiple individuals attacking a single individual. He was very aggressive that's why he held onto his dominant status for so long.
"[David] was pretty clever but our best interpretation of what happened is that these adult males jumped him," Pruetz continued. "Jumkin who was a beta male is now the alpha. There's a huge absence. It's like more than one chimp is gone. The dynamic is really different. I imagine Jumkin will be alpha for a while. However, you can see Luther [another beta] already challenging him a bit."
It's horrific news, especially to a television audience who just met David, but hey, those are the ways of the wild. At least the BBC documented the lives of that group of chimps for two years, giving us all a glimpse at David's life. And look at the bright side: The other five stories probably won't end in betrayal and cold-blooded. There must be some triumphs to balance out the tragedies, right?
Anyway, rest in peace to David the Chimp, and long live David Attenborough, who gives us uncensored looks at nature, even if breaks our hearts sometimes.