One of my favorite people to watch on television is Sir David Attenborough. He is a personal hero of mine and has taken my love of animal behavior to the next level. We often watched clips of his shows in my zoology classes at university, and if I could have any job I could wish or dream of (barring the total lack of reality of this situation and my lack of riches), I would travel as an ethologist around the world with Sir David Attenborough and the late Steve Irwin (RIP, Steve).
I've never met David Attenborough nor do I think I ever will in my lifetime, but watching his shows makes it clear that he is passionate, has extensive knowledge, and is actually a very humorous individual. I also believe that he has a certain humility when it comes to recognizing and respecting the great forces of nature, the vastness of our planet, the diversity of species, and humans' place alongside and in creation, in the circle of life (cue Elton John).
Recently I've been watching reruns of The Life of Mammals on a public broadcasting television station. Did you know that otter fur has more hairs in one square centimeter than a human has on his or her entire head? It's little facts like these and watching the very intelligent, sometimes funny, and intuitive behavior of the animals that completely fascinates me. I learn things like the difference between seals and sea lions; why certain elephants go back to a certain cave late at night when all is dark; how the platypus feeds her young by secreting her milk through her skin; how a golden mole has lost the use of its eyes (now covered in fur) and literally swims through sand; why dolphins rush up on the shores in North Carolina and why seagulls follow them screaming with excitement; and I am introduced to a plethora of species even I didn't know about despite being a zoology major at university.
I'm convinced that David Attenborough gets paid to do cool stuff (oh sure, I'm sure he gets something for his expertise, but mostly his salary is for cool stuff). He's been filmed riding an elephant, scuba diving, digging up packed snow and ice to find a seal's nest in Antarctica,
riding in a basket upward into the canopy of a rainforest, being right next to a whale as it surfaces, and getting all sort of other cool, close encounters with wildlife. He has been everywhere, too! It seems almost foolish to hope that I can travel even just a quarter of what he's done in his lifetime. Clearly, I'm in the wrong business.
One more thing I appreciate is that he is Richard Attenborough's brother. Richard Attenborough, the esteemed film director and actor (Jurassic Park remains one of my all-time favorite movies, and not just because of Richard Attenborough's role), and David Attenborough are brothers. What great talent genes in that family!
I'll end with a quote from Sir David Attenborough that I pulled from online:
"Three and a half million years separate the individual who left
these footprints in the sands of Africa from the one who left them on
the moon. A mere blink in the eye of evolution. Using his burgeoning
intelligence, this most successful of all mammals has exploited the
environment to produce food for an ever-increasing population. In spite
of disasters when civilisations have over-reached themselves, that
process has continued, indeed accelerated, even today. Now mankind is
looking for food, not just on this planet but on others. Perhaps the
time has now come to put that process into reverse. Instead of
controlling the environment for the benefit of the population, perhaps
it's time we control the population to allow the survival of the