These 10 famous animal caretakers and researchers have inspired and taught us about the wonder and beauty of the natural world and the importance of taking care of it. These unique individuals possessed a rare passion for animal wildlife and have fought to ensure that we protect and nurture it.
Steven Irwin was an Australian wildlife expert famously known for his television show "The Crocodile Hunter." Born in Australia, as a boy he helped his parents with care and feeding of animals at their reptile and fauna park. He was given a large python on his 6th birthday and was wrestling crocodiles by age 9. He died when a stingray pierced him in the chest while filming "Ocean's Deadliest."
Jane Goodall went in to Tanzania in 1960 when she was 26 to study wild chimpanzees. She has become famous for her research and today works to protect endangered species and the environment. The Jane Goodall Institute labors to protect the chimps of Gombre National Park while serving the needs of local people there.
Known as the "Grizzly Man," Timothy Treadwell was famous for his audacious and fearless love for grizzly bears. He would approach and interact with wild bears as if they were his friends and was a passionate advocate for their protection and the protection of their environment. In 2003 he was attacked and killed by a bear along with his girlfriend Amie Huguenard.
Sir David Attenborough
Sir David Attenborough is a world-famous wildlife documentarian. He has made educational and entertaining wildlife films for 20 years and produced some of the first black-and-white nature films. A household name, he is one of Britain's most prominent broadcasters. His latest series is called "Life of Birds."
Jacques Cousteau was a famous ocean explorer who pioneered underwater documentaries. His team created the first underwater base camp so that researchers could stay underwater for weeks at a time -- a technology that was adopted later by the United States Navy. He started off as an explorer and spear fisherman but later became an environmentalist that fought to restrict commercial whaling and underwater nuclear waste dumping.
Jack Hanna is a zoo director, television personality and author. He is one of the most famous animal experts and has often appeared with wild creatures on television shows such as Good Morning America, The Late Show with David Letterman and Larry King Live. He is on the board of directors for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and is a national spokesperson for animal activism and awareness.
Dian Fossey was a researcher and conservationist who started out as an occupational therapist. After visiting Africa, she decided to conduct a long-term study of mountain gorillas. For 20 years she lived around them and recorded detailed notes on her findings. Her work helped gain international support for mountain gorilla conservation. Her life came to a grim end in 1985 when she was murdered for an unknown reason in her cabin in Karisoke.
Rachel Carson was an ecologist, scientist and author who helped inspire others to appreciate the wonder and beauty of the natural world and to protect its creatures. She wrote for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about conservation. She turned government research into poetic language in her free time, eventually publishing several books for the public. She later fought to warn people of the dangers of using pesticides in agriculture.
Doug Peacock is a well-known lecturer, conservationist, grizzly bear advocate, author and co-founder of the Wildlife Damage Review, Vital Ground and Round River Conservation Studies. After fighting in the Vietnam War, he came back and went into solitude in the wilderness to heal from the trauma of war. It's there he encountered grizzly bears, whom he said restored his soul. He has advocated and documented them ever since.
Dr. Roger Payne is famous for his ocean expeditions and whale research. He's the founder and president of the Ocean Alliance and has studied every species of large whale found in the wild. He is most known for his theory that fin and humpback whales produce sounds that can be heard across oceans and for discovering that humpback whales sing songs to each other.
- BiographyOnline.net: Short Biography Steve Irwin
- NationalGeographic.com: Jane Goodall
- Center for Wildlife Information: Screens from a Maul
- PBS.org: Meet Sir David
- NationalGeographic.com: Jacques Cousteau Centennial: What He Did, Why He Matters
- Biography.com: Jack Hanna
- PBS.or: The Gorilla King
- RachelCarson.org: Rachel Carson's Biography
- DougPeacock.net: Biography
- PBS.org: Meet the Crew: Roger Payne
Brian McCracken lives in Portland, Ore., where he writes on pets and animal wildlife as well as a wide array of other topics, ranging from real estate to personal development.