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NATURE: Born Wild: The First Days Of Life

Airs Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: An African lioness licking young cub, Masai Mara GR, Kenya.

Across the animal kingdom, some of the most essential lessons — and the most extreme challenges — occur in the first moments of life. From ostrich to orangutan, egg sac to live birth, infanticide to matricide, the diversity of behaviors between parent and progeny is as great as the diversity of life on our planet.

Your Baby Animal Photos

Have you snapped a great baby animal photo? It’s too late to enter the Born Wild Photo Contest, but you can still add your photos to the slideshow. Check out the photos that have already been submitted.

As animal parents struggle to help their young survive their first days in the wild, they face seemingly insurmountable odds.

Penguins travel literally the ends of the Earth to protect their infants, facing Antarctic blizzards while they incubate their eggs. Amaurobius spider mothers offer their own bodies for their newborns to feast on. Orangutan mothers face up to eight years of single parenthood raising their infants.

Understandably, the process of birthing and raising young is one of the most stressful experiences an animal can endure. And it is in these very trials that the most extraordinary glimpses of life in the wild come to light.

"Born Wild: The First Days Of Life" follows the birth and first days of several species, from marmoset to moose to elephant and gorilla. It is a film of miniature drama and huge spectacle, and comes to some surprising conclusions about human beings.

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Video

Video Excerpt: Nature: Born Wild: The First Days Of Life

Above: Lions kill infants they don't know, so this lion mother hides her cubs for the first six weeks, visiting only to feed them. When she introduces the cubs to the rest of the group, will they recognize the cubs as part of the family?