The wilds of Sri Lanka, land of myth and legend.
Where rocky pinnacles overlook vast tropical forests.
And an abandoned city lies shrouded in jungle.
The kings who once reigned here are long gone.
These days, there's a new dynasty in residence.
But this one is governed by the law of the jungle.
I know what you're thinking.
"Being a macaque monkey is just fun and games."
But, actually, it's an intricate society of 50 members bound together by a strict social order.
In this troop, every waking moment is a reminder of your place.
From a seemingly innocent greeting.
Oh! He'll learn.
To your choice of sleeping branch.
Upper class, basking in the morning sun.
Lower class, shivering in the cold.
Your social rank even determines what you can eat.
Nowhere is that clearer than here.
The kingdom's most prized fig tree.
Only those at the top of the social ladder can eat at the top of the tree where the ripest fruit is found.
And at the very top, the alpha male himself, Raja.
He is the king of Monkey Kingdom.
See that move? That's macaque for "Back off."
Raja arrived from the outside and fought his way to the top.
So, you know, he's earned the pampering.
But, if he wants to stay on top, he's gotta keep the real power brokers happy.
The three females on the other high branches.
The queens behind the king.
Whether you remember them by their red faces or their ruthless natures, you will remember them.
These ladies get what they want.
Their children get what they want.
Everything that is good in the forest is reserved for them.
Like royalty, they were born into privilege, and that's the way it's gonna stay.
Do not get on their bad side.
Descending the tree, we descend the social ladder.
With each branch, the fruit is less ripe, and the monkey lower in rank.
Until, at the bottom, the heroine of this story, Maya.
Maya's got big, friendly eyes, three distinctive spots on her nose, and, I think you'll agree, a pretty rad hairdo.
She was born eight years ago, at the bottom of the troop, just like her mother.
And her mother before that.
When you're at the bottom, you're either in the way, or you don't even exist.
But every day, you're paying your dues to monkeys like Raja without any chance of promotion.
And so, back under the fig tree, Maya takes whatever scraps fall her way.
A low-born like herself simply can't improve her position or dream of eating from a higher branch.
Yet this is the story of how Maya fights to beat the odds and make a better life.
For Maya and the troop, home is Castle Rock, a magnificent granite outcrop at the center of the kingdom.
It's the most sought-after residence for miles around.
It's a pretty sweet neighborhood.
Sweeping views of their territory are perfect for spotting rivals.
It's got plenty of rec rooms, nature's finest roof, and, of course, the original jungle gym.
The monkeys think they own this rock but there are some tenants.
There's a mongoose in the building.
Day after day they ask him to play.
And his answer is always, "No, thank you."
But rejection only increases their determination.
They will play with this mongoose if it is the last thing they do.
Nothing will stop them.
Even his absence.
Continuing their search...
"It's cool. I knew he was in there.
"Just a bear."
Mama sloth bear is keeping her cubs cool, rehydrating them with her saliva.
She's also keeping her cubs safe from this guy, the unwelcome suitor outside.
Mama keeps her cubs well hidden until he leaves, or...
He's not dead. He's just asleep.
Every morning, the troop leaves Castle Rock to scour the forest for breakfast.
Maya can't afford to be a picky eater.
Don't worry. Bambi's not on the menu.
And this squirrel won't seem to give up his food. Oh.
But, uh, maybe this is promising.
At nearly 40 years old, Grandpa only moves when the group tells him it's worthwhile.
That's monkey-speak for "Jackpot!"
But guess who got there first.
Mushrooms are like potato chips for the sisters.
Once they start, they just can't stop.
Maya waits. This is what it means to be last in line.
By the time your turn comes, there's nothing left.
Midday, a scorcher.
Too much lunch.
It's already Grandpa's fourth nap of the day.
Raja and the sisters enjoy the sweet dreams of the high-born.
Maya, on the other hand...
The sisters' kids don't feel like napping.
Maya makes the best play structure.
She'd love to object, but one swat at the sisters' kids and there would be big trouble.
Maya just has to take it.
Even if they use her tail as a rope swing.
That's gotta hurt.
"Guys, don't mess with the hair."
At just one month old, these kids already know Maya's place.
And it's not up there.
So they can poke Maya in the eye repeatedly.
And forage for food inside her mouth!
Maya will never know the sweet life, but she does get a break occasionally.
To de-stress, macaques visit their less sophisticated cousins, the langurs, treating them like pets.
Seems to lower the blood pressure and calm the nerves.
The langurs don't mind.
In fact, they may not even notice.
Not the sharpest tools in the shed, these guys.
And if you want a super fun, stimulating playmate, you might have to keep looking.
Now, on the other hand, a group of intelligent monkeys is very hard to sneak up on.
Even engrossed in grooming, Maya has the eyes of her troop looking out for danger.
The alarm is sounded.
The close escape is a chilling reminder for Maya of why she can never leave her group.
Life at the bottom may be hard, but striking out on her own would be too dangerous.
While Maya can't leave, that doesn't mean something good can't come to her.
His name is Kumar.
15 pounds of hunky monkey.
Like all young males, this dashing newcomer left his birth troop to find a permanent home.
Maya sizes him up.
Kumar is giving Maya the eye.
If Raja catches Kumar flirting, he'll drive the newcomer away.
Kumar can't get kicked out now.
It's courtship season.
Males throughout the forest are pulling out their best moves.
Kumar is no exception.
But he's got a problem.
There's that Raja again, guarding Maya for himself.
If Kumar knows what's good for him, he'll stay under the radar.
"Nobody here, nope."
"I'm just waiting for a friend."
Maya is smart enough to pretend not to care.
Raja's position as alpha gives him first rights in all things.
Raja won't give Maya the time of day.
Then, when she's finally got an admirer, guess who's hanging around.
Oh, sure. Now he's interested.
Come on, Kumar. Just play it cool, man.
Kumar needs to try something different.
Like, maybe, I don't know, uh, the exact same thing from the other side of the tree.
No matter. Maya knows raw potential when she sees it.
Finally, with Raja distracted, she takes matters into her own hands.
"Where'd she go? What? Wait a minute."
Raja knows he's been tricked.
Kumar would be wise to lay low.
Instead, he boldly strides back into the group, straight up to Raja.
His henchmen lend their muscle.
Kumar is expelled.
Maya watches him retreat.
This means goodbye.
Maya returns under Raja's hostile stare.
It's back to business as usual, or so it would seem.
Six months later, something has happened that changes everything.
Maya has given birth to Kumar's son.
Welcome to the world, Kip.
Maya is consumed by unconditional love.
She is lost in her infant.
To keep her milk flowing, Maya no longer has the option of skipping meals.
And with Kumar gone, keeping Kip safe won't be easy.
The sisters enjoy a network of nannies, not to mention paternal support.
Maya will have to do this on her own.
Now more than ever, Maya must overcome her rank and beat the system.
Her son's future depends on it.
Little Kip has arrived just in time for monsoon season.
If you thought taking care of a newborn baby was hard, try doing it during weeks and weeks of downpour.
Castle Rock would make an ideal shelter for an infant, but it's reserved for the VIPs, whose firsthand experience of rain is limited.
Kip would be much better off under there.
Maya can only shake it off, and try to prevent Kip from getting dangerously cold.
Few of the kingdom's creatures enjoy the rain.
At least the elephants get to apply wet mud to their backs, which works like sunscreen when it dries.
Monsoon winds blowing off the Himalayas have brought more rain in the last few weeks than in the rest of the year combined.
The water soaks deep into the ground.
In a few months it'll bring a glut of fruit.
But, before that...
It happens for a just a few hours every year.
Thousands of winged termites take to the air to found new colonies.
For the macaques, it's every holiday meal rolled into one.
For Maya, termites have the two best qualities in a food source, they are delicious, and they are everywhere.
Even the sisters can't keep this feast to themselves.
Maya has her very own mound today.
And more food for Maya means more milk for Kip.
Patience, little one.
Everyone in the kingdom shows up for termite day.
Even scorpions gather as much as they can to stock the pantry.
Finally, Kip got his fill.
The termite feast comes but once a year, which leaves Maya with 364 other days to provide for her son.
Her growing son.
Kip is getting older, reaching that age when he starts to realize he's part of a larger world.
Meanwhile, he's this close to understanding that his skin is actually attached to his face.
Like any mother, Maya probably wants to freeze her child in time.
This, right now, this is the perfect age.
The laws of physics.
They'll make sense in time.
It's monkeys that are confusing.
Infants get a pass to be annoying in their early weeks.
Older monkeys just have to look the other way.
Sometimes it's extremely hard.
But not everyone plays by the rules.
Like the sisters and Raja.
Especially not for Maya's kid.
And so, Kip discovers his place.
With termite season long gone, cassia flowers are what's on the menu.
For Raja, the sisters, and their children, that is.
To feed herself and Kip today, Maya will have to get creative.
Maya's nothing, if not scrappy.
She's got a plan B.
With other hungry monkeys in tow, Maya takes the lead.
It's an opportunity the high-born wouldn't even recognize.
The lily pond is a spot known for predators.
But today, the coast seems clear.
Maya digs in, harvesting the seed pods of water lilies.
Grandpa will sit this one out.
When the easy pickings are gone, you've gotta get a bit more adventurous.
Maya treads carefully.
It's Maya who makes the first move into the deeper waters.
Kip will go along for the ride.
The younger monkeys follow.
But even the bravest hesitate over this next incredible step.
Did you know monkeys could swim?
For Kip, it's been a day of firsts.
First swim lesson, first lily-seed pod and now, this.
A monitor lizard.
7 feet long, a deadly ambush predator.
His most lethal weapon, the element of surprise.
Maya hasn't spotted the lizard.
In the chaos, Maya has gotten Kip to safety.
But not before one of their own has fallen.
After a night spent wet, cold, and shaken, the low-born recover.
Maya isn't sleeping in.
She's got a growing son to feed.
Maya finds a patch of caterpillars, perfect for enriching her milk.
Kip should be eating soon enough.
The sisters believe any food patch is their food patch.
They mount an attack, driving Maya away from her son.
Kip is stolen away.
Maya receives her brutal punishment.
And Kip is carried off into the forest.
Hours pass, and still, Maya is looking for her son.
On the far side of the ruined city, the sisters keep Kip close.
Maya calls for her lost son.
Finally, the sisters lose interest, and Kip is free to leave.
Kip is lost and dangerously exposed.
Maya has been patrolling the territory for hours, straining to hear her son's calls.
This ordeal is over.
The lessons of yesterday are clear.
Maya will need another way to feed her son.
She must head into uncharted territory.
For today's mission, she brings backup, leaving Kip safely behind with a fellow low-ranker.
The upside to this score could be enormous, but so are the risks.
The predator encountered at the edge of the forest is unpredictable and loud.
Maya gets a glimpse.
"Oh! They're terrifying!"
"Chickens. Very small brains."
"Will they notice if we take their eggs?"
The lookout gives the signal.
"In. Confirming we are in."
"No one will ever know we were here."
"We are like ninjas."
"They're coming. Quick, last chance!"
"Mmm. I like pink flavor."
"Is this even food? I don't care!"
"Leave nothing behind, eat it all!"
"Mm, this is good!"
"Oh, this is delicious!"
"Mm, cake. Love cake!"
"Happy birthday, kid."
Back in the forest, Maya is reunited with Kip.
The underclass will retire for the night with an unfamiliar sensation in their bellies.
Yesterday's raid can't be a regular thing.
Maya needs long-term security for her son.
The next morning, a lone male surveys the edge of the kingdom.
Maya will not be expecting this.
Kumar is back.
He's grown stronger and smarter in exile.
The young boys are playing, training for the day they leave the troop and attempt Kumar's journey.
This could be the opening he's been looking for.
A way to ingratiate himself with the troop and heal old wounds.
Maya has spotted him.
Finally, they are reunited.
And for the first time, Kumar meets his son.
But if Maya's man wants to stay, he's got work to do.
Step one, befriend the alpha's lieutenants.
Step two, put in some grooming time.
Soon, Kumar can sit back, and the others come to him.
But this all means nothing without the alpha's support.
Step three, make up with Raja.
Kumar's opportunity arrives in the form of jackfruit.
Sloth bears have the best noses in the forest, so they always find it first.
Bad-tempered bears usually keep monkeys away, but jackfruit makes you forget your place.
The sisters are quick to remind you, though.
Because jackfruit isn't just fruit. It's politics.
If Kumar's learned anything, he won't steal something out from under the alpha's nose again.
No matter how good that fruit looks.
Maya can only watch as the fate of Kip's father hangs in the balance.
Kumar makes a move, but it's not for the fruit.
He offers his hand in friendship.
And so, Maya's man earns a seat at the table.
Raja will soon need Kumar's strength on his side.
A rival group is sizing up Castle Rock.
Lex, the leader of this battle-hardened team.
Raja assesses the threat.
Maya moves Kip to safety.
Raja and the other males must defend the troop from invaders.
Branch shaking is a full-on threat.
In the heat of the moment, Raja leaves the high ground, leading his troop to the enemy.
Playing right into Lex's hands.
The home team follows, answering Raja's call for support.
The battle is on.
The combat drifts further from the rock and into the jungle.
Sensing easy victory, the home team is drawn even further still.
Lex is lying in wait.
The enemy is ready.
He can only see one invader.
Time for Lex's crew to finish the job.
The home team is cornered.
Raja's troop runs for its life.
Castle Rock has a new king.
Raja is wounded.
Leaving the rock and taking the fight to Lex was a costly error.
His position as alpha is on shaky ground now.
Kumar has his own battle scars.
But today, there is worse.
The troop lost one of their own.
Maya had known this male for years.
It's as though she and the others understand that this is farewell.
They haven't just lost a friend today, they've lost their rock castle and the kingdom that sustained them for generations.
Maya pushes on as Kumar chaperones Kip.
Finally, Maya has some protection for her son.
But the troop is vulnerable.
There's nothing to eat or drink here, and Lex's crew could return to finish them off.
They must keep moving.
The low-born know a monitor, even out of water, and sound the alarm.
The nobility isn't familiar with this creature, because they never needed to visit the lily pond.
For once, out in this alien no man's land, the commoners have the edge.
For Maya, the lizard is nothing more than a fleeting distraction.
With Kip in tow, she presses on, and the group falls into line behind her.
The forest edge is unfamiliar terrain.
Finally, a place to regroup.
But plover birds don't want the monkeys near their eggs.
The sisters are on the receiving end for once and they do not like it.
Kumar leads Kip to cover while Maya forges ahead.
Maya is the most equipped for this challenge.
She knows some stuff about looking for food in dangerous places.
The first stop is a bust.
Maya keeps moving.
Adversity is nothing new for this girl.
Not so for Raja.
Others take the lead now.
The sisters are bewildered.
Even Grandpa fares better.
When the troop finally enters the urban jungle, they are ravenous.
Using her instincts, Maya leads them to the market.
Kumar makes the first move.
He makes it look easy.
His students watch and learn.
Maya is in the thick of the action while Kip stays safe above.
The sisters get an A for effort.
Sure, there's some learning to be done.
Progress, not perfection.
With stomachs full, the troop can explore whatever else the city has to offer.
A seat for Grandpa.
A little drink from this thing.
"What is that?"
"It's furry, about the size of a langur."
"Do you speak monkey?"
"Dude, what are you?"
"It likes being groomed."
Okay, maybe man's best friend is also monkey's best friend.
"No, it's because we like to bite each other's tails.
"Is that not a thing... Okay."
"Think he'll let me ride him?"
"Same time tomorrow?"
Our troop has sampled city cuisine.
Kip has even met the wildlife.
All that's left is a place to stay.
High above the palm. Now, that's a sleeping tree.
Kumar leads them up.
The troop settles in for the night, nice and cozy.
Hmm. Well, it's actually not that cozy.
Okay, not at all.
What Maya and Kip wouldn't give for their wooden branch at home.
At least it's quiet.
"You're kidding, right?"
"It's gonna be a long night."
Nope, this won't do at all.
Castle Rock is home.
But before the troop can win it back, they have to build up their reserves for the tough fight ahead.
This will require a focused assault on the town.
Wounds healed and strength regained, the troop is ready to head home and reclaim what's rightfully theirs.
Together, on the edge of their territory, they wash away the city and relish the jungle all around them.
The line between high-born and low-born remains blurred.
It may not stay this way forever, but for now, it's enough.
Kip and his new friends seem happy to be back.
But Maya can't relax yet.
The hardest part of the journey lies ahead.
Kumar leads the troop home.
Maya and Kip follow him closely.
The sisters, still humbled from their time in the city, trail behind them.
Raja is no longer at the front.
Kumar has Castle Rock in his sights.
The enemy is home.
Lex senses something is wrong.
Kumar remains hidden.
Maya has left Kip at the rear and is close behind.
The soldiers assume their positions.
The enemy still hasn't seen Kumar, and the troop is nearly set.
Lex can see movement, but can't know what's coming.
Grandpa is going in.
Kumar makes his move.
Not good for Lex.
Maya is on the front line.
Soon, our troop scales Castle Rock.
Kumar lays his claim as king of this castle.
Overpowered, Lex and his team retreat.
Finally, the troop is home.
For Maya and the troop, it's great to be back.
First, the jungle gym.
Yup, still good.
Then, it's time to catch up with old friends.
And let's not forget you-know-who.
It's pretty obvious that he has missed them.
Now, street smart from the town, they collect rent from their tenants.
"Look, we're all reasonable forest creatures here.
"We're not gonna eat you, "but we are gonna eat your fruit.
"So, hand it over."
The youngsters have grown in confidence since their urban adventure.
Especially Kip, whose curiosity has blossomed.
Castle Rock remains a stronghold for our troop as a year passes, and another monsoon season comes and goes.
The precious fig tree is back in fruit.
And this time, Maya is in it.
These days, Maya enjoys a new acceptance by the sisters.
Then again, some things never change.
Yeah, yeah, you're still a big deal. We get it.
The sisters are still attended to by Raja, but he's lost their support.
Whereas Grandpa just keeps on going, a role model for generations of young monkeys.
Kip is now a well-fed and healthy little boy.
He has a knack for making friends, and an independence that is growing by the day.
Kip isn't just surviving, he's thriving.
Kumar, now the alpha of the troop, snuggles against Maya and their brand new baby girl.
This infant's future will be secure.
She will know nothing of the struggle once endured by her brother.
Kip now has a vibrant future ahead of him, thanks to his mother.
Against all odds, Maya made this possible.
I think he's chasing for the jeeps.
A little bit angry, eh?
I'm getting nice little...
They've just started emerging.
You can see them behind me.
We've had a little bit of rain, and it has obviously softened up the termite mounds.
Some of them are coming out, and the monkeys are just picking them off.
About 17 weeks we've been waiting for that.
It feels like we've been filming here for six years.
What makes this more exciting is it's not just mongooses that live down here.
About four weeks ago, we saw a cobra going in and out.