Photo by: Purwo Kuncoro

New Nextflix docuseries follows the Ngogo chimpanzees

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On April 19, Netflix will release Chimp Empire, a four-part docuseries that follows the fascinating lives of the Ngogo chimpanzees as they raise their young, navigate complex social dynamics, and attempt to climb to the top of the hierarchy.

Chimp Empire was filmed in Uganda’s Kibale National Park, home to the largest known group of chimpanzees ever discovered. The Leakey Foundation is proud to have supported ongoing research at Ngogo for over 25 years. This series, directed by Academy Award winner James Reed (My Octopus Teacher) and narrated by Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), will give an unprecedented intimate view of the behavior of our closest living relatives. 

Chimpanzees typically live in groups of approximately 50 to 60 members — the Ngogo chimps had about 120 chimps living together before splitting into two hostile factions, which is where director James Reed’s involvement in the story of Chimp Empire began. 

“The scientists who worked there were telling me all this news: ‘You won’t believe it, the Ngogo group has finally split. This is completely unprecedented,’ ”Reed said in a Netflix news release. “We have no idea what will happen now. Will they reunite peacefully? Will they go to war? We’d reached a historic moment. It was going to be new for science, and it also provided a really unique opportunity to film a story about this amazing, dramatic situation in the forest.”

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