• Run Time
  • Episodes
  • Broadcaster
    BBC 2
    Love Nature

Across the planet, young animals spend huge amounts of time playing, but it’s a behaviour that has long been overlooked by science. Now, new research reveals that it isn’t just for fun. Whether honing hunting skills, learning to collaborate in groups or slowing the ageing process, play is at the heart of almost everything an animal learns. Filmed on four continents and featuring experts and in-field scientists, this seriesuncovers the bizarre ways animals play, introduces some surprising animals fooling about, and discovers why play is so vital for an animal’s development throughout its lifetime.

The series explores the differences between playing alone and playing in groups and uncovers the benefits each type of play gives. Highlights include Komodo dragons that play a delicate balancing game; clouded leopards that become addicted to endorphins released while playing chase; Japanese macaques that use a complex form of ‘stone handling’ to stave off dementia and dolphins that play games of pass the seaweed to build cohesion in the pod. The series also explores how the most intelligent animals, like chimpanzees, use play to push the boundaries developing complex skills such as tool use.

Play undoubtedly has many purposes and in this series we discover that perhaps it’s only just beginning to reveal its astonishing powers.