WAN Exclusive With Academy Award-Winner James Reed, Director Of The New Netflix Series ‘Chimp Empire’

The compelling and visually stunning documentary series Chimp Empire just debuted on Netflix and is a must-watch story of survival. The series takes viewers on a journey alongside filmmakers following the largest group of chimpanzees in the world, consisting of 120 individuals that have split into two rival groups in Uganda’s Kibale National Park. The series gives viewers an incredible look inside the chimps complex society and human-like behavior. 

WAN had the opportunity to speak with Academy Award-Winner James Reed, director and writer of (My Octopus Teacher), about his experience filming the Ngogo chimps deep in the heart of Uganda’s rainforest.

Reed told WAN that he spent over a year in the Ngogo forest following the chimps and tracking their incredible story. “It was challenging walking in their footsteps, they would notice, but didn’t seem to mind, they have such similarities to humans. We had a close relationship with the scientists and field trackers in Ngogo and lived in a small camp within the territory filming both groups.”

According to Reed, scientists have been studying the Ngogo chimps in Uganda for 25 years. The researchers have been gathering critical data and tracking the chimps and their harrowing story of survival, observing their human-like behavior through love, loss, and battle to become the strongest alpha in their society.

It began with the documentary ‘Rise Of The Warrior Apes’ in 2017, that Reed directed and produced. The film followed alongside anthropologists who spent decades researching the social behavior of a group of 120 chimpanzees in Kibale National Park. After years of conflict within the society, the large group ended up splitting into two and that’s when Reed was called in to film the new series, Chimp Empire.

The filmmaker and researchers gained new insights about the violence, brutal power struggles, rivalry, friendship and diplomacy within the two hierarchical primate groups. The intelligent individuals have the ability to network and forge alliances that can make or break the future of their societies.

“We had to put ourselves in the best position to film what the chimps were doing. The only thing you can control is where you turn your camera,” Reed told WAN.

Each chimp in the group was given a name, such as Abrams, Jackson, Gus, Peterson and Miles. The chimps were all named by the scientists and researchers after years of getting to know their personalities in the field.

Uganda is home to around 5,000 chimpanzees and 1,500 live in Kibale Forest. Wild chimpanzees are endangered and face extinction, due to hunting for the bush meat trade, habitat loss, logging and disease. We must work together to save them before it’s too late.

Chimp Empire is a must-watch, eye-opening, emotional and visually stunning series that is now available to stream globally on Netflix.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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