Welcome to the ESCAPE THE ZOO podcast, where we interview leading wildlife photographers, conservationists and scientists to learn more about the awe-inspiring species that we share this fascinating planet with. Guests of the podcast have traveled to the the edges of the world to observe, photograph, study and support wildlife in their natural environment and, as you probably can imagine, now have some of the most exciting, scary, crazy, extreme, and beautiful stories that I have ever heard.
Shannon Wild! is an absolutely incredible wildlife photographer and cinematographer. Shannon has worked with clients such as Nat Geo WILD, WildAid, and the United Nations.
She has written three books, runs photographic expeditions, and founded Wild In Africa, a business that creates handmade beaded bracelets that are very cool, but even cooler is that she donates 50% of sales to carefully selected wildlife conservation organizations that she has worked directly with.
Shannon is also married to another friend of the podcast, Russell MacLaughlin, who was on the podcast a couple months ago. They do a lot of their work together so you will hear us mention Russ quite a few times in the conversation.
We talk about:
- their film on the black panther in India
- standing next to a Komodo dragon
- what it’s like to be attacked by a cheetah
....and much, much more!
Please check out and support Shannon’s work:
full video @ https://youtu.be/b7OIgTwLCV0
Sources for topics discussed:
RED cameras: https://www.red.com/
Komodo dragons video: https://bit.ly/2QOmrGL
Cheetah attack: https://bit.ly/2AMWPov
Cheetah ‘supermoms’ / Eleanor: https://on.natgeo.com/2Dbpw03
Blue white-lipped viper Komodo Island: https://bit.ly/2RUhGQR
RED collective ‘The Wilds’: https://bit.ly/2BH42c2
Margot Raggett IG: https://bit.ly/2AIZ64k
Michelle Valberg IG: https://bit.ly/2Hp75cD
Cristina Mittermeier IG: https://bit.ly/2Ch2bs0
Ami Vitale IG: https://bit.ly/2SSguKL
Dhole / elephant: https://bit.ly/2TMpDog
Wild In Africa: https://wildinafrica.store/
Wild Tomorrow Fund: www.wildtomorrowfund.org
Zambian Carnivore Programme: https://bit.ly/2Da1ylW
Conan O’Brien podcast: https://apple.co/2PJ7eGl
Lizards eating insects on lions: https://bbc.in/2FBDda2
Half Earth project: https://bit.ly/2sqWzad
Alive book / Uruguayan Rugby team: https://bit.ly/2ST405N
Shannon Wild’s YouTube: https://bit.ly/2TMl79l
Shem Compion is an adventurer, nature photographer, creative, author and photography hide builder. He runs C4 Photo Safaris, a company with a simple goal - to bring clients to the best wildlife locations, in the best season with the best photo guides so you can take the best photos.
- Working with BBC to capture lions hunting elephants for the Planet Earth series
- The struggle of rhinos in Africa
- A leopard attacking a porcupine
....and much, much more!
Please check out and support Shem’s work:
Sources for topics discussed:
Planet Earth - lions hunting elephants: https://bit.ly/1t6WwXl
Shem’s paper on lion predation on elephants: https://bit.ly/2RG8zTA
Planet Earth II - lion vs giraffe: https://bit.ly/2CjMgcO
Blue Planet II - crab vs. eel vs. octopus: https://bit.ly/2QC0MSc
giraffes sleeping: https://bit.ly/2D4tQOC
Nikon D5: https://bit.ly/2FlUNzA
Dr. James Borrell: www.jamesborrell.com
Endangered Wildlife Trust: https://www.ewt.org.za/
Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown: https://cnn.it/2O0C4ed
Encounters with the Dragon by John Hone: https://bit.ly/2AG8RA6
Eternal Enemies documentary by Dereck and Beverly Joubert: https://bit.ly/2RjEbPz
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2AHuYGk
Full video @ https://youtu.be/dW2utDkLnOA
Ken Geiger is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who served nearly twelve years with National Geographic Magazine as Deputy Director of Photography.
- a 3200 year old Sequoia tree
- wild dogs in Africa
- desert foxes in Morocco
- his widely celebrated photo of a solar eclipse that also sparked a little controversy
Please check out and support Ken’s work:
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2FdZYl0
Full video @ https://youtu.be/KiuNxFMSofs
Amber Jackson and Emily Hazelwood are marine scientists, explorers, and entrepreneurs. They are founders of the certified, women-owned marine environmental consulting firm, Blue Latitudes.
We talk about their program Rigs-to-Reefs, where offshore oil platforms that are no longer being used by oil companies are modified so they can continue to support marine life as artificial reefs.
Please check out and support Amber and Emily’s work:
Petition with Patagonia: https://bit.ly/2De1bat
Russell MacLaughlin is an award-winning wildlife filmmaker, photographer, naturalist, and conservationist who creates with groups like National Geographic, WildAid, and Disneynature.
- his new film project documenting one of the rarest animals in the world, the black panther in India
- swimming with crocodiles
- lemurs in Madagascar
- wolves playing with bears in Scandinavia
Please check out and support Russell’s work:
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2Dia6HK
Full video @ https://youtu.be/KxpdvQMjQW8
Jeremy Hance is a journalist with experience writing about wildlife, climate change, energy politics, animal behavior, and much more for outlets like Mongabay and The Guardian.
We talk about:
- solenodons: venomous, nocturnal, burrowing mammals found in the Caribbean that can trace their lineage back to the dinosaurs
- the Sumatran rhino: a small, hairy rhino on the brink of extinction that does lives in Indonesia but no one ever sees it
- as well as Half Earth, an ambitious yet exciting proposal that aims to be the future of conservation and save life on this planet
Please check out and support Jeremy’s work:
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2zbfkBG
Full video @ https://youtu.be/eMlXpifJkAs
Dr. James Borrell is a conservation scientist and science communicator with a passion for adventurous expeditions and conservation fieldwork.
I really enjoyed this fascinating conversation including discussions on:
- invasive species
- trophy hunting
- discovering a new species of amphibian in Madagascar
- using dogs that think they are goats to save cheetahs
- why we should be optimistic about conservation in general
Please check out and support James’s work:
TED Talk: https://bit.ly/2tv7bIv
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2S2zcQ1
Full video @ https://bit.ly/2JeDcZK
Matt Draper is an internationally acclaimed fine art photographer. Matt uses his imagery to foster love for the ocean, by replacing fear with fascination.
Free diving with humpback whales in Tonga
Traveling for two weeks on an ice-breaking boat to find king penguins on Macquarie Island
Watching two elephant seals fight
Cage diving with great white sharks
Swimming with spotted eagle rays, sea turtles, tiger sharks and everything else you can imagine
Please check out and support Matt’s work:
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2pxy0a5
Elliott Neep is an award-winning wildlife photographer and photographic guide. He has produced articles for major photographic publications, including BBC Wildlife magazine and the National Press.
- searching for tigers in India
- witnessing hyenas hunt flamingos in Africa
- extreme trips to the Arctic and Antarctic
- why Elliott decided to leave social media
Please check out and support Elliott’s work:
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2xqzGpE
Full video @ https://bit.ly/2xoVimk
Dan Westergren has spent three decades producing award-winning images as a National Geographic Society photographer, photo editor, and social media strategist. He has served as Director of Photography at National Geographic Travel, and as a result, is probably the most well traveled individual that I have ever had the pleasure of speaking with.
- various trips from the North Pole all the way down to the Antarctic Peninsula, where he’s been six times!
- Ernest Shackleton, the famed polar explorer, and the insane, heroic stories of his expeditions
- grappling with fear while climbing the Matterhorn
- cage diving with great whites in South Australia
Please check out and support Dan’s work:
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2O6hvg3
Full video @ https://bit.ly/2MjSkVs
Richard Peters is a UK-based wildlife photographer and Nikon ambassador who has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
- the photo that he almost intentionally deleted that went on to win his first award
- his award-winning collection of beautiful images taken from his own backyard of pigeons, badgers, foxes and other common creatures
- winters in Yellowstone
- puffin colonies of the Skomer Islands
- his flight from Slovenia to the UK that was diverted due to a bomb scare
Please check out and support Richard’s work:
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2MKmrKP
Full video @ https://bit.ly/2PsomjW
Jed Weingarten is an accomplished wildlife photographer based in Bozeman, Montana who has spent much of his professional career in China.
- being one of the very few to not only see but film snow leopards in the wild
- the current state of conservation in China
- the rush of flying over a waterfall in a kayak
- how to be accepted into a wolf pack!
Please check out and support Jed’s work:
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2MAXrFR
Full video @ https://bit.ly/2PcNTOh
Tayla McCurdy is a guide on safariLIVE, a live stream from the African wilderness every single day on YouTube and TV. Tayla splits her time between the Sabi Sands in South Africa and the Masai Mara in Kenya leading this unscripted broadcast. She is super fun and I had an absolute blast chatting about her work, her photography and stories from the bush.
- a dangerous moment when her group was stuck between a horny bull elephant and a group of females
- the chaos of the Great Migration
- a recent experience with a mongoose she found doing something so bizarre and so funny that the video quickly went viral
Please check out and support Tayla’s work:
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2L8giCF
Shawn Heinrichs is an Emmy Award winning cinematographer, photographer, scuba diver, and marine conservationist. You may recognize him from the documentary, Racing Extinction. His conservation focus areas include ending the global slaughter of sharks, protecting manta and mobula rays, and establishing marine protected areas.
- going undercover to expose the endangered species trade
- saving a manta ray
- getting surrounded by a juvenile gang in Ecuador
- finding HUNDREDS of whale sharks together in one place
- his amazing work protecting endangered marine species by guiding and supporting communities towards sustainable industries
Please check out and support Shawn’s work:
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/D4OBps
Full video @ https://youtu.be/tB6kQHm-Ac8
Yaron Schmid is a veterinarian, wildlife photographer and African safari guide.
- cheetahs jumping onto his roofless car
- watching baby leopards and lions
- dik diks: an antelope the size of a pocket book dog
- the sad story of the murder of Tanzania’s leading elephant conservationist
- staring into the eyes of a baby gorilla
Please check out and support Anand’s work:
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2MchE3A
Full video @ https://youtu.be/ko6Tg6YBZEc
Drew Rush is a wildlife and natural history photographer based in Wyoming. If you follow @natgeo and @natgeotravel on Instagram, you will likely recognize his name and photos. He is a remote camera specialist, using camera traps to capture never before seen animal behavior in the wild.
Floating above the world in a powered paraglider
- tracking and photographing wolf packs in Alaska
- being charged by not one, but two grizzly bears
- contracting an mysterious infection in the jungle waters of the Amazon
- getting stuck in waist deep in snow as a mountain lion approaches
- using photography to support research and conservation
Please check out and support Drew’s work:
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2LxV2uU
Full video @ https://youtu.be/CU_MXjYvUZ0
When I think of stunning wildlife photography, Kenya-based Federico Veronesi always is amongst the top of my list. His imagery is insanely beautiful. Living in Kenya, he has an intimate knowledge of individual animals that he has watched for years and that comes across in his work in a profound way.
- his bold and inspiring journey that brought him from Italy to Kenya to become a wildlife photographer
- his years spent tracking caracals, mysterious African cats that receive much less mainstream attention than leopards and lions due to their elusive nature
- being surrounded by baby elephants
- the complexity and importance of conservation issues affecting African wildlife
Please check out and support Federico’s work:
https://bit.ly/2KrvbUc (his book, Light and Dust)
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2tOnD4q
Full video @ https://youtu.be/tCyQWmyDnOc
Alastair Pollock is an underwater photographer based in Sydney, Australia.
- swimming with sneaky sharks that get too close for comfort
- realizing you’ve gone too close to a fur seal colony
- how to find a leafy sea dragon
- what the hammer of a hammerhead shark feels like
Please check out and support Alastair’s work:
Full show notes @ bit.ly/2KxVc0I
Full video @ https://bit.ly/2KiBzhm
Anand Varma is a photographer with a degree in integrative biology from UC Berkeley. He helps biologists communicate their research through photographs, and tell the story behind the science of complex issues.
- mind controlling parasites
- zombie ladybugs
- a near death experience with a volcano
- glowing mushrooms
- bee pollination
Please check out and support Anand’s work:
full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2MkHEpY
Michelle Valberg is a Canadian wildlife photographer and nonprofit leader with several books to her name. She is a Nikon Ambassador and was named as the first ever Canadian Geographic Photographer-in-Residence. She founded Project North, a nonprofit that delivers education and sports-based opportunities to youth in Canada’s Arctic. If you love bears like I do, this podcast is for you!
- intimate experiences with spirit bears
- a way too close for comfort encounter with a polar bear
- the ice grizzlies of Canada
- swimming with narwhals, the real unicorns of this world!
Please check out and support Michelle’s work:
www.projectnorth.ca (nonprofit work)
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2yvpDmW
Full interview video @ https://bit.ly/2yr0bPk
Keith Connelly is a wildlife guide, photographic guide, professional photographer and travel addict.
- being shoved by a gorilla
- getting caught in gunfire on a hippo-filled lake
- climbing Kilimanjaro
- conservation ideologies in Africa
Please check out and support Keith’s work:
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2MFfK90
Full video @ https://youtu.be/DrUC4hpFXzA
Margot Raggett is a renowned wildlife photographer and conservationist. Her Remembering Wildlife series of photographic books include contributions from some of the greatest wildlife photographers in the world and all proceeds are directly donated to important conservation work. Remembering Elephants, Rhinos, and Great Apes have received tremendous celebrity support and collectively raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect these species.
- the Remembering Wildlife series and conservation projects supported via funds raised
- meeting Sudan, the last male Northern white rhino
- visiting chimpanzees and mountain gorillas
- the trophy hunting debate
- a conversation with the legendary Jane Goodall
Please check out and support Margot’s work:
full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2JAFLZj
John Marriott is a Canadian wildlife photographer, author, personality and outspoken conservation advocate.
- relaxing with spirit bears in the Great Bear Rainforest
- photographing the ice grizzlies of the Arctic Circle in Canada’s Yukon
- four years tracking the Pipestone wolves in Banff National Park
- the massive caribou migration
- black-footed ferrets in Saskatchewan after being absent from Canada for almost a century
Please check out and support Tony’s work:
www.wildernessprints.com (photos, books, events)
www.canwildphototours.com (tours / workshops)
www.bit.ly/2xQsWog (YouTube / web series)
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2MlacQT
Full video @ https://youtu.be/1CyCKKkiJYA
Tony Wu is a multiple winner at the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards, most well known for his work underwater with whales and other cetaceans.
- Tony’s terrifying experience with a sperm whale that changed the course of his life
- an underwater phenomenon that he is the only person on Earth to ever document
- mass gatherings of whales
- swimming with orcas
- conservation issues affecting the future of the gentle giants.
Please check out and support Tony’s work:
Full show notes @ https://bit.ly/2xStZnS
Full video @ https://youtu.be/svpU8iT6PNM