Sir David Attenborough (center) with the film crew and an (anesthetized) bear
Britain’s grand old BBC is weathering a grand old storm over some of the scenes in David Attenborough’s super-popular new TV series, Frozen Planet (coming to American TV in early 2012).
The show has captivated audiences in Europe with remarkable scenes that include the birth of polar bear cubs in the Arctic. Except, as we now learn, the footage for these was actually shot at a zoo in Holland.
There’s more. The video of a wooly caterpillar going into deep freeze for the winter and thawing herself out again in spring was staged in a laboratory.
And for the iconic scene of Sir David himself sitting next to a polar bear, the bear was anesthetized.
Now people are upset, and there’s talk of an investigation. As if this kind of thing is news.
Grow up, everyone. Much, if not most, of what you see on any wildlife show is staged. As Sir David explains it:
“If you had tried to put a camera in the wild in a polar bear den, she would either have killed the cub or the cameraman … It’s not falsehood, and we don’t keep it secret either.”
This is not the first time Attenborough has been accused of using staged footage. In Polar Bear, Arctic Warrior, a mother bear gives birth and snuggles with her newborn cub. It looks like it’s happening in the Arctic, but was, in fact, filmed in a zoo in Germany.
There are several other cases, and Attenborough defends the practice, saying that it’s TV, and you don’t interrupt the narrative with a series of disclaimers all the way through. Plus, the show’s website does indeed list exactly where all the footage was shot.
In any case, Sir David Attenborough is up there with the likes of Jane Goodall in helping to foster a better relationship between us humans and other animals. If his TV audience is going to get upset at him for misleading them about some of his video footage, they could spend their time better pressing the people at factory farms to tell them the truth about how the animals are treated at those miserable places.
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What do you say? Did you know that some of the video in wildlife shows on TV is staged? Do you mind? Let us know in a comment or on Facebook.