Thursday, March 29, 2007

Jeff and the not-so-friendly Jumbo

It wasn’t on primetime news, so you’ve probably not heard about Animal Planet’s Jeff Corwin’s near-fatal brush with a Cambodian elephant. Yup, Corwin almost became Irwin when a Jumbo “tossed him like a ragdoll” during the filming of a show hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Amazingly, Corwin escaped with every bone intact.

The incident was caught on tape and is even now available on YouTube (of course).

I had the pleasure of meeting the man some three years back when Animal Planet actually flew me all the way to Taipei for an interview.

I must say that unlike the hyper Ian Wright, Corwin was a pretty calm and quiet man. He answered my questions with a lot of thought and was polite and proper throughout the chat.

And for someone who spends most of his time in the deepest jungles imaginable, the dude looked pretty well-groomed. And he didn’t smell at all!

The next day though I got to see a different side of him. We took the same van to go to this café to launch his new program, and he turned out to be a cool dude after all. A big film fan, Corwin was spewing movie trivia throughout the entire trip with a few impersonations thrown in.

But I remember he was a bit fussy with his Starbucks coffee…

Excerpts of the interview from the March ’04 issue of NewMan magazine:

Do you have anything against the circus?
Yes, I do. I don’t have a problem with the concept of a circus. What I have a problem with is exploiting wildlife for entertainment. Especially when there’s a level of suffering for the animals. I don’t think monkeys should be on roller skates and orangutans shouldn’t be in human clothes.

What do you miss most when you’re deep in the jungles?
My family – my wife and seven-month-old baby daughter. But I travel with a great crew and we have a lot of fun too. We’re like family on the road.

What was your reaction when you found out that you were named one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People?
It was cool cos that took the subjects of nature and animals to the forefront. I’m not an actor or a movie star; I’m a biologist! And to make biology beautiful or sexy for a day was rather cool, but I think you have to keep things in perspective.

What sort of pets do you have at home?
I have a cat. And that’s it.

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