"Nature's" Dating Game

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PBS’ long-running series Nature is taking a close look at the animal singles scene with What Females Want and Males Will Do, a two-part special in early April.

According to executive producer Fred Kaufman, the idea started when he saw video of a manakin, a South American bird, doing “a Michael Jackson moonwalk on a branch” to attract females (seen below): “When I saw this, I realized we need to investigate the lengths animals would go to impress a potential mate.” 

To promote the special, Nature sent out cheeky faux personal ads, such as “SM Gelada Baboon W/Strong Hot Red Chest—Seeks Partner to Cool Me Down.”

“This all is really a look at the animal side of the singles scene, trying to get the female’s attention,” Kaufman says. “If animals could take out ads, they would. But they don’t.”

Are the specials too risqué for public television? “Well I wanted it to be a little bit [risqué], I wasn’t too concerned,” he says, adding that mating symbols such as peacock feathers and rams butting heads are common sights on nature shows.

Nonetheless the specials deal frankly with even more explicit displays of sexuality.

Says Kaufman: “The duck phallus, for example, is very mature, but it is all in the name of science.”

What Females Want and Males Will Do premieres on PBS April 6 and 13 at 8 p.m.

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