If you love animals like I do, you perhaps find yourself glued to the TV screen watching a cat having its leg reconstructed or reaching for the tissues when a rescue dog finds its forever home.  Recently I watched "Ten Puppies and Us", a delightful, if at times infuriating programme about the first six months of ten puppies and their new owners.  Us animal lovers have a huge choice of animal themed programmes available to watch: The Supervet, Dog Rescuers, Me and My Dog to name a few.  And how we take notice of adverts that feature animals.

                                                       The Dogs Trust                 Harvey and Rabbit

This led me to remember some of the TV shows I watched when young, although attitudes towards animals on television have certainly changed since then and mostly I feel for the better.

Who can forget "walkies" Barbara Woodhouse and her "Training Dogs the Woodhouse Way" or Johnny Morris and his "Animal Magic".  Further back came Daktari with Clarence the cross-eyed Lion, Black Beauty, Flipper the Dolphin, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo and Champion the Wonderhorse.  And then there was Belle & Sebastien, The White Horses and Follyfoot.  Life without social media was a little simpler then, but YouTube brings these old favourites back to life : if you have a few hours to spare!


The very first wildlife programme I remember watching, which left an indelible mark on my heart, was a documentary about a lost African Wild Dog puppy : Solo.  It was filmed by Hugo Van Lawick and his then wife, now Dr Jane Goodall, DBE.  I was spellbound by the life and death struggle of little Solo and these remarkable film makers.  Dr Jane Goodall, now 83, is a wildlife hero of mine and I have followed her extraordinary dedicated work.  In 1960 she came to Gombe Stream National Park, a 20 year old secretary with no zoological training, to begin fieldwork that changed the way we think about animals today.  Probably best known for her work with the Chimpanzees at Gombe, she was one of three remarkable women of that time sent out by the palaeontologist, Louis Leakey.

Dian Fossey was also funded by Leakey to study Mountain Gorillas, which led to her book, Gorillas in the Mist and the film of the same name.  She devoted her life to conserving these amazing animals, but sadly was murdered in 1985 in her beloved Rwanda because of her stance against poaching.

The third of Leakey's "Trimates" as they were known, is Birutė Galdikas, who again at a very young age found herself in wild Borneo and is now one of the leading authorities on Orangutans.  She too has devoted her life to their study and conservation and to the preservation of their habitat.


Sir David Attenborough, another hero, is perhaps the best known naturalist and presenter of some amazing wildlife programmes.  He seems to have invited us along for some memorable journeys across oceans, deserts and jungles and shows little sign of slowing down at 92.  He has no doubt inspired the next generation and we are blessed to have so many.


I know this Blog started out as a nostalgic look back at some of my favourite TV moments featuring animals, but you never know where your path leads you.  These remarkable wildlife heroes didn't know where their paths might lead, but they were always looking forward to conserving wildlife and their habitats for the future.  Jane Smart.