“Great Yellowstone Thaw" Showcases Animal Survival during the Region’s Toughest Spring

Great Yellowstone Thaw
Courtesy of Kirk Geisler/Shutterstock.com

“Great Yellowstone Thaw"
Premieres Wednesday, June 21 at 9 PM ET on PBS
(Check local listings)

         Starting June 21, PBS viewers have the chance to witness one of the greatest seasonal changes on planet Earth in the stunning new three-part series “Great Yellowstone Thaw," co-produced with BBC and airing Wednesdays, June 21-July 5, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET (check local listings). 
          Filmed over the course of several intense months, from deep winter to early summer, the series intercuts the stories of several different animal families—including wolves, bison, grizzlies, beavers and great gray owls. The series follows the animals in the Yellowstone ecosystem as they emerge from winter’s cold and adapt to an early spring thaw, before encountering the soaring summer temperatures. From winter to summer, Yellowstone’s temperature typically swings 140 degrees.


          Dr. Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and a renowned paleontologist and author, hosts the series. Johnson and a team of Yellowstone experts explore how these animals fend off floods, starvation, and fires, as well as the area’s extreme evolution from cold to heat during the spring season. “Great Yellowstone Thaw" showcases the extraordinary survival instincts the park’s natural species possess. Viewers will learn how the early thaw brings the bears of the Rocky Mountain region out of hibernation prematurely, creating concern over food supply. The wolves, which have recovered from their extinct status in the 1990s, are now beginning to thrive, but the fluctuating temperatures pose a threat to the species once again. While the beavers have to make their homes in freezing rivers, the great gray owls must migrate to find food in thawed areas in order to survive.
          “We are thrilled to have Dr. Kirk Johnson return to PBS to share with viewers the amazing adaptability of these animals in an often brutal environment,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “As part of our ‘Summer of Adventure’ line-up, this series highlights the dramatic and inspirational animal stories in a location that all Americans know, but very few know intimately.”
          In the premiere episode, follow the dramatic ups and downs in Yellowstone as the wildlife families brave a brutal winter. In the following Wednesday’s episode, June 28 at 9 PM, see how Yellowstone’s wildlife families face the drama of the great thaw as spring arrives.