Earlier this year television naturalist Sir David Attenborough visited Durrell to film with the delightful black lion tamarins, miniature monkeys that are so affected by habitat loss in their native Brazil, they were once thought to be extinct.
The filming was for part of Sir David’s newest series titled Attenborough’s Ark, which airs at 9pm this Friday (9th November) on BBC Two.
In the series Sir David selects ten endangered animals from around the world that he’d most like to save from extinction. Much like his friend and peer, Durrell’s founder Gerald Durrell; Sir David chose to focus on some of the less glamorous species. Fittingly, two of the ‘top three’ species he picked are already the target of Durrell conservation programmes.
In Attenborough’s Ark, Sir David explains why these animals are so important, and highlights the ingenious work of biologists across the world who are helping to keep them alive.
Third on the list for Attenborough’s Ark is the enigmatic Hispaniolan solenodon, a shrew like mammal that possesses a venomous bite and grooved ‘fangs’, more usually found in reptiles. The solenodon seems to be virtually unchanged from its ancestors that were fossilized some 30 million years ago; Durrell’s Head of Conservation Science, Dr Richard Young has been at the forefront of the study and subsequent efforts to conserve these weird and wonderful creatures.
Speaking of his reasons for choosing these lesser-known species, Sir David said; “I could choose those that grab the headlines – the majestic tiger, the spectacular polar bear, the beautiful snow leopard or the magnificent mountain gorilla. They are all animals that I wouldn’t want to lose.”
“But there are many other extraordinary creatures out there not in the limelight. These few give a glimpse of the outstanding diversity of nature.”