Great Migrations

Common Sense Media says

Nature's harsh realities may be too intense for young kids.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series inspires respect for nature and all of its diverse inhabitants. Although it doesn’t discuss environmental issues like global warming in depth, it does imply a relationship between some of the animals' struggles and the changing environment.

Positive role models
Not applicable

Some scenes show animals fighting for food, survival, or the right to mate, and victims are bloodied, killed, and dismembered. 


Occasionally the show’s content touches on breeding rituals, and animals engage in mating onscreen. One segment shows male gazelles enticing potential partners by flaunting their erect penises and soaking the ground with hormone-laden urine.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this sweeping nature series will inspire a new appreciation for the beauty and wonder of nature with stunning high-definition scenes that treat viewers to intimate glimpses of animals in their most natural surroundings. Although the narration never directly focuses on environmental issues, it does bring to light the changing nature of the animals’ habitats and the stress that puts on their survival. The show offers an unedited view of life at its most natural, and young kids might be upset by scenes of predators killing and eating prey or of males battling for the rights to a female. Even more, parents might not be ready for their kids to see the animals engaging in the act of procreation, which is shown in detail in some segments.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

GREAT MIGRATIONS chronicles the daunting journeys undertaken by animals of every shape and size in a quest for their species’ survival. Traversing the globe and filming scenes both on land, in the air, and underwater, this stunning high-def series, which is narrated by Alec Baldwin, gets to the heart of these migratory movements, exploring the perilous circumstances that necessitate the animals’ travels and watching as they embark on their dangerous journeys. For some, it’s a quest for sustenance; for others, an age-old breeding ritual; but whatever the impetus, these creatures must overcome potentially fatal obstacles to secure the future for themselves and their young.

Is it any good?


Inspiring and beautiful in its scenery, this fascinating series brings viewers up close and personal with a diverse cast of animals on the move, including elephant seals, army ants, Mali elephants, and Indonesian jellyfish. No two tales of survival are the same, and each one will inspire viewers’ appreciation for the delicate balance of life in the wild, which lends itself to some great follow-up discussions about environmental issues like global warming and conservation.

That’s not to say the show is appropriate for everyone, however. The fact that it doesn’t shy away from showing the bad with the good when it comes to these animals’ struggles makes for plenty of tense moments and some potentially upsetting scenes of predators killing and eating prey. What’s more, segments that center on the animals’ breeding practices feature fairly graphic scenes of the act itself (animals mounting mates and noisily doing the deed), so unless you’re ready to talk birds and bees with your kids, you probably should save this one for your tweens and teens.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the environment. What challenges are we facing today regarding the environment? Why are these issues controversial? How does a changing environment affect different species of animals? What are our responsibilities to the environment?

  • Did you find this show educational? What did you learn from it? What, if anything, sets it apart from other nature series? 

  • The animals in this show are forced to adapt to constantly changing circumstances. Do you ever feel the same? In what ways do you adapt to changes at home, at school, and in extracurricular activities? Does your ability to adapt make you feel stronger? Is adapting a challenge for you? How do you overcome it?

TV details

Cast:Alec Baldwin
Network:National Geographic Channel
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD

This review of Great Migrations was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 9 and 10 year old Written byqtnn December 6, 2010
Parent of a 9 and 11 year old Written bylinsey-woolsey November 30, 2010
Parent of a 8 year old Written byMediaMom831 November 4, 2010

Excellent for older kids, but not for younger kids.

I thought this would be a fantastic idea for my 8 year old son to watch (he LOVES elephants) and so I showed this to him. It's a very educational, very good documentary about migrations, though it IS very iffy to show to my eight year old son. Multiple times I had to cover his eyes because it contained footage of elephants mating as well as fighting each other for the right to mate. Don't get me wrong, it's great that they put it in there, but I just don't think they should have aimed it for kids that young. Violence and elephant sex aside, the look at the poachers was very interesting but very disturbing. My eight year old was asking me why the bad people were killing the nice little elephant! He also asked me what it was that they were smoking which I could not give him a straight answer for. It's still a good documentary, just not for my kids
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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