Today I’m starting a new blog series under the Animal Welfare category, where I present 5 facts about some of the greatest contributors to animal conservation, welfare, and rights. And what better way to start off the series than with someone who has served as the voice of nature conservation worldwide for over 50 years, namely Sir David Attenborough.
1. He has at least 15 species and genera namesakes, both living and extinct, that have been named in in his honour. Most notable perhaps is the Attenborosaurus conybeari, a type of water-based dinosaur that lived during the early Jurassic period.
2. He was educated at Clare College, Cambridge University in Zoology and Geology, where he obtained a degree in Natural Sciences. After leaving Clare College he went on to serve in the Navy before going on to apply for a job as a radio talk producer at the BBC. Although first rejected, this job application would mark the start of a magnificent career in natural history documenting, and wildlife conservation. Below I’ve embedded videos from Zoo Quest (1954), Life on Earth (1979), Life of Mammals (2002) and Blue Planet II (2017)
3. As a controller on BBC Two, he was one of the pioneers of television, bringing colour broadcasts to Europe in 1965. He also commissioned Monty Python’s Flying Circus, ushering an era of British comedy greatness, and a lasting cultural inheritance for the UK.
4. Although he’s most known for his nature documentaries, Attenborough also has a social anthropology postgraduate degree from the London School of Economics. This came in handy when he made a series of programmes featuring isolated tribes to promote “the diversity and universality of the human experience.” When speaking about the Biami tribespeople in his 1971 documentary, A Blank on the Map, Sir David said, “It is not the differences between us that are important - it is the similarities.”
5. It comes as no surprise that Attenborough’s documentary viewership is unrivalled in the nature genre. So much so, that the second instalment of Planet Earth (2016) remains the most watched natural history documentary in the last 15 years, and Blue Planet II became the BBC’s most watched programme of all of 2017. With audiences in more than 30 countries, there is no doubt that Sir David’s contribution to wildlife conservation is among the greatest in the history of humankind.