Published January 11, 2013
NEW YORK – Imagine being in the Southwest corner of Africa, in the Kalahari. The water supply is short...the heat unbearable. In the corner of your eye, you see two usually docile giraffes engaged in a violent battle.
Fortunately, you get to watch the fight from the safety of your couch, because its part of Discovery's latest epic nature series "Africa."
Award winning executive producer Mike Gunton joined us in the Fox411 studio to discuss his most surprising animal encounters.
"One of the things that is interesting about this whole series is how many times we've found things that's completely not what you expect," Gunton said. "As you said, you think giraffes as being gentle, and at times completely not."
Gunton explained that animals very much like humans have their own personality types regardless of their specifies.
"All of these creatures don't behave in the same way. They've got all personalities. You get brave animals, you get scared animals, you get strong ones," Gunton said. "This particular male [giraffe] definitely thought he had a chance and so what happened the fight just got bigger and bigger and escalated and escalated until they were just hammering and hammering each other. Then there's this amazing end to this where the young one tries to knock the big one down, the big guy has a little trick up his sleeve. It's like a boxing match."
The veteran wildlife producer also captured a rare gentle moment with usually temperamental rhinos.
"You know you wouldn't want to get near a rhino, but in fact actually there was this situation where they completely flip on their heads and do a complete different type of behavior. They come together and kind of have a little party," Gunton said. "They're gentle and they're loving and they make these lovely little sounds but it only happens at night in these one or two places where they come when they know they're safe."
However, the "Africa" crew did not always find themselves as simply observers. An unsuspecting cameraman became part of the action when an elephant began to attack.
"He thought he was high enough up in the tree but he wasn't and then this elephant came and he could smell there's something strange; there's a human being here which does not happen normally." Gunton continued, "He couldn't reach him but he just started hitting this tree for about four hours. He just went bang, bang, bang and this guy had no radio, nothing, and was stuck up in this tree on his own in the dark with a big elephant trying to knock him down."
It is the stories like the unpredictable giraffes, the unrelenting elephant and the unusually social rhinos that Gunton says show the intricacies of one of the most beautiful and complex continents in the world.
"You think you know Africa," he said. "But you don't."