Hayden Turner - Private Safaris  
By: Sydney Morning Herald, 8 June 2005

Former Zookeeper, Hayden Turner, feels a long way from his Ryde chicken yard. It's late evening and Hayden Turner has just returned to his hotel in Boston after a long day shooting a story about a runaway alarm clock. "It's quite quirky and fun," Turner says over the phone. "A master's student has invented an alarm clock that jumps off the bedside and rolls away to find a place to hide before the normal snooze alarm goes off, and you've got to get out of bed to find the thing." Alarm clocks and sleep are no doubt important considerations for Turner, a presenter on Seven's new science and technology show Beyond Tomorrow - a reborn version of Beyond 2000 (shown on Seven and Ten during the 1980s and '90s) and its predecessor, Towards 2000 (screened on the ABC in the early '80s).

The London-based presenter has already clocked up three months of filming on the road, with at least another month ahead of him. Not that the former Taronga Zoo Keeper is complaining. "I'm just a normal Aussie bloke [and] I do have to pinch myself and realise I'm a reporter on Beyond Tomorrow," he says. "It blows my mind. To go from my chicken yard in East Ryde to doing what I'm doing, I'm very privileged." And, he admits, lucky. Turner's TV career and inclusion in the Beyond Tomorrow team, which also includes Olympian Matt Shirvington, astrophysicist Graham Phillips, Anna Choy and Dr Caroline West, can be traced back to a chance encounter while working at the zoo about seven years ago.

Having resigned from his "dream job" - caring for the zoo's African animals - to travel and work on a research project in Zimbabwe, Turner answered a radio call from Zoo management asking him to conduct a tour for a group of VIPs. Included in the group was the then general manager of National Geographic Channel in Australia, Bryan Smith (coincidentally, a former presenter and producer of Beyond 2000), who offered Turner training, a digital camera and the opportunity to record his African adventures.

The result was Turner's Video Postcards - Africa, which ran for 58 five-minute episodes and paved the way for his reports on the channel's Earth Pulse series and several Animal Documentaries. His work with Production Company Beyond International, which makes Beyond Tomorrow, led to his inclusion in the show's pilot and eventually the offer of a full-time presenting role. Considering earlier incarnations of the show launched the careers of Carmel Travers, Amanda Keller, Simon Reeves and Tracey Curro, among others, it was an offer too good to refuse. "I was absolutely blown away to have the opportunity to be part of a series I grew up with as a kid," Turner says. "As a young fella, I used to love watching Beyond 2000 and Wildlife Documentaries and would flick between channels thinking I could watch both programs but would eventually get stuck watching Beyond 2000." Turner's background and interest in Animal Conservation and environmental issues will play a prominent role in his contribution to the show (in last week's premiere, Turner reported on a Cheetah Conservation program in Namibia), but he and the other roaming presenters will cover unfamiliar topics on Global breakthroughs in science and medicine.

"I'm experiencing a lot of things I might not know much about at all," he says. "If it's technology no one has ever seen, I'm just a normal Aussie bloke and will ask as many questions to find out as much as I can." Such questioning and intrigue surrounding new technology and its potential explains the enduring appeal of the show, says Turner's co-presenter Caroline West, who was part of the Beyond 2000 team from 1993 to 1997. "The world is changing at such a rapid rate that it's a scary thing to deal with," she says. "But armed with information that gives us a bit of resilience and confidence with what the future may bring."

However, the increased sophistication of the audience, which has other sources of information, including the internet, means the program has had to evolve from being a show just concerned with gizmos. West's first report, on a three-dimensional colour printer that can be used by surgeons to reproduce models of organs or prosthetic joints, is an example, she says, of how the show is also concerned with the impact of technology on human and animal life.

"I think Beyond Tomorrow has a broader agenda and looks at the big picture," West says. "We're not just focusing on gadgets and technology ... [but] on the questions we have about the world we want to live in and the world we want to leave for our children."

Beyond Tomorrow airs on Seven on Wednesdays at 7.30pm.

By: National Geographic Channel, 2004

Hayden Turner doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. He reports for the Channel from some of the roughest places on earth; from the deserts of Morocco to the jungles of Africa. Hayden’s work is built on his passion for ildlife. See him get close to the action in Wildlife Challenge. A few weeks ago he was hitching a lift on a pig truck in South East Asia; just another day at work for the National Geographic Channel field reporter. Hayden's work is underpinned by his love of Wildlife and his passion for Conservation. He's a former Zookeeper who has worked closely with many species, particularly African mammals.

Hayden's real life experience comes across in his on screen reports. There's very little he doesn't know about chimpanzees, for example. Hayden spent months working with chimpanzees in Africa. His 'mateship' with a Camel at Sydney's Taronga Zoo was an ideal basis for his recent documentary 'Camel Crazy' where Hayden trekked across the Sahara with camels and Bedouin tribesman for company. When the chance came to fly to Kabul and help re-build the shattered Zoo, Hayden was packed and heading for the airport in minutes. "The first thing I learned was how to avoid landmines. I've never had that before. But it was also an honour to work alongside and share ideas with the Kabul Zookeepers."

He feels the most important tenet of conservation is education – a philosophy he exports through talks and programmes at Zoos, interactions with indigenous communities and through his involvement with National Geographic programmes like EarthPulse 1 & 2, Go Wild, Out There and The International Geography Olympiad.

By: The Washington Post 'Parade', 2002

Perhaps the only thing as bad as being an Afghan caught in decades of war was being an animal in the Kabul Zoo. "The Zoo was on the front lines of fighting", says Hayden Turner, an Australian zookeeper with a National Geographical mission to Kabul. "Every wall is dotted with war damage-you see bullet marks, "God only knows what the animals have been through".

His team provided medical care for the animals and taught keepers the latest techniques. Several British veterinarians also have worked in Kabul since November, and Dr. David Jones of the North Carolina Zoo raised $400,000 for support efforts. "The Zoo is a symbol of survival to people here", Turner tells us. As for Kabul, he says he'll never forget the image of freezing children in cotton shirts in the winter or 'the friendliness and the optimism in people's eyes." Turner is featured in Kabul Zoo Rescue, June 24 on the National Geographic Channel.

By: National Geographic - Hong Kong, 11 June 2002

Against the backdrop of continuing International conflict, National Geographic Channel's Hayden Turner profiles efforts to rescue Afghan Animals in danger. As world attention continues to focus on war-torn Afghanistan while it recovers from decades of conflict through aid packages and reconstruction, another type of rescue effort has been underway -- but this one has to do with creatures who cannot cry for help or benefit directly from food drops and foreign aid. They are the imperiled animals in Kabul's bombed-out Zoo. In the National Geographic Channel Special, Kabul Zoo Rescue, premiering on 17 June at 9 pm, National Geographic Channel focuses on a team of dedicated animal rescue workers who are risking their own lives to save these starving and suffering creatures.

With unique access, National Geographic Channel's Hayden Turner and a veteran team from international charity the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), led by WSPA's John Walsh, flew into the eye of war-torn Afghanistan in January 2002 to try to restore health to as many emaciated and imperiled animals as possible. Carrying life-saving supplies, the rescue team worked with a veteran Kabul zookeeper to set up a command center at the once-vital Kabul Zoo. WSPA's years of experience in war zones like Kosovo and natural disasters like Montserrat had prepared them for the animal suffering they encountered in Afghanistan. Over 300 of the Zoo's animals had already been killed during warfare.

In Kabul Zoo Rescue, Turner, a former zookeeper at Sydney, Australia's Taronga Zoo, and rescue workers race against time to save wounded and maimed animals. On the ground in Kabul at the zoo's command center, Turner joins a disaster team concentrated on the animals at the zoo itself. Much-needed food and water were supplied to the animals, and sickly creatures were treated with medicines. At the Zoo, the team found tragic cases of illness and deprivation: Marjan, the 'Lion of Kabul', was blinded and maimed when a mujahidin fighter lobbed a grenade into his cage; an Asiatic black Bear, Donatella, reportedly had her nose sliced off by another soldier; and the Monkeys were weak and starving. There were also Wolves, Eagles, Porcupines and other animals in desperate need of help. Sadly, after years of suffering, Marjan finally succumbed to his injuries and died during the making of this film.

"Though I saw sadness and tragedy in Afghanistan, I also witnessed the incredible power of the human - and animal - spirit to overcome adversity and conquer sorrow," said Turner. "I'm a normal bloke - a former zookeeper who saw animals in trouble and knew there was something I could do to help. The true heroes are the Kabul zookeepers and people of Afghanistan," he continued. In addition to providing food, water and medicine for all the Zoo animals, the WSPA team at Kabul insured that a regular supply of water and electricity would be connected to the Zoo. Various improvements were made to the enclosures of many of the animals and WSPA also managed to restock veterinary clinics in Kabul with desperately needed medicines and supplies. The mission culminated in the relocation of Eurasian Wolves and the Asiatic Bear Donatella into new enclosures. And with the promise of $500,000 USD from a coalition of zoo organizations and other donors, the future of the Zoo is again looking brighter. Host of National Geographic Channel's Kabul Zoo Rescue, Hayden Turner is an adventurer whose around-the-world sustainable travels have been documented on National Geographic Channel's EarthPulse. He has also been featured in the series Out There and Go Wild and is currently in production on a new series called Hayden Turner's $1000 Wildlife Challenge.

Kabul Zoo Rescue was produced for National Geographic Channel by Tigress Productions. Producer for Tigress Productions is Harvey Lilley. For further information about the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), log onto their site at - www.wspa-international.org. Building on the 35-year legacy of National Geographic Television & Film, which has won over 800 top television industry awards, National Geographic Channels International (NGCI) bring the vast resources, unsurpassed quality and real heroes of National Geographic to over 110 million homes (including day-part households) in 138 countries and in 23 languages around the world...

NGCI is a business enterprise owned by National Geographic Television & Film (NGT&F), FOX Entertainment Group and the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). NGCI contributes to the National Geographic Society's commitment to exploration, conservation and education.

By: National Geographic Australia

Hayden Turner travels to Malawi, one of Africa's poorest countries, to see how fruit juice may just save the forests... With no other way to make a living, rural people have resorted to chopping down trees to make charcoal to sell in the towns. Now an ingenious plan to make and sell juice from Boabab fruit is providing an alternative and sustainable income.

In the first of two parts, we visit Hawaii to see how an almost military operation is helping to wipe out foreign plants and animals. And Stephen Backshall gets a close look at some of the world's most delicate corals in Palau.

By: National Geographic

Monarch Butterflies in Mexico, Saltwater Crocodiles in Australia, Macaws in Peru - armed with a digital video camera Hayden sets out to prove that none of these amazing spectacles is out of the reach of the ordinary traveler - as long as you're prepared to travel on horseback or in canoes, and sleep in beach huts and hammocks. And just to make sure he doesn't overspend, his every move is captured on camera by his trusty sidekick - cameraman Andy Thompson.

Amazing animals in stunning locations. Elation and despair. Success and failure. Some of the worst jokes known to mankind. They're all part of Hayden Turner's Wildlife Challenge.

Produced by Tigress Productions.

BY: National Geographic, 10 June 2002

Years of war in Afghanistan have taken a heavy toll not only on the country's people but also on its animals. The residents of the Kabul Zoo have been among the most badly affected.

Fortunately, an outpouring of international effort has helped the Zoo begin recovering from Afghanistan's civil war and the turmoil of the Taliban regime.

"The Zoo is a strong symbol of hope" for the people of Kabul, said Hayden Turner, an Australian who is active in wildlife conservation. Turner, who has been a Zookeeper at Sydney's Taronga Zoo, went to Kabul this past winter with a team from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) to provide desperately needed care to the animals at the Kabul Zoo. His experiences are the subject of a new National Geographic Channel documentary, "Kabul Zoo Rescue."

International Response

The Kabul Zoo's population declined to less than 40 as a result of the hardships in recent years. The documentary looks at the treatment of four of the inhabitants: a Lion named Marjan, a Bear named Donatella, and a pair of Wolves. Marjan, who was elderly and in overall poor health, died while the WSPA team was in Kabul, but the group was able to relocate Donatella and the Wolves to better quarters. In an interview, Turner said he has learned since leaving Kabul that the animals featured in the documentary are recovering well.

The WSPA team also treated an Eagle with an infected eye, and the bird has healed completely, Turner noted. Mary Rosevear, director of the Federation of British Zoos, said a number of Zoos around the world have organized under the banner of the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria (WAZA) to help the Kabul Zoo and its animals. She said John Lewis, an English veterinarian, visited the Zoo in April to examine Donatella, whose nose had been slashed by a Taliban soldier. The injury has been aggravated by the bear repeatedly rubbing her nose against the bars of her small cage. Lewis treated Donatella and determined her infection was fungal, and she is now undergoing treatment and healing properly.

International concern about the Zoo's situation grew last November when media coverage of the Zoo, particularly of Marjan's precarious condition, reached the public. "The thing snowballed, particularly in the U.S.A.," Rosevear said. The "Lion's share" of funding for WAZA efforts, she added, has come from public donations, but many zoological societies have also contributed. Rosevear said WAZA is using the funds to provide the most critical needs and is not sending money directly to the Kabul Zoo to avoid raising hopes of an endless stream of international aid.

The "True Heroes"

Turner said the "true heroes" of the desperate situation are a dozen zookeepers in Kabul a bunch of dedicated guys who don't have an incredible amount of resources." The Afghan Zookeepers braved the crossfire of the fighting between the Taliban and other Afghan groups to get supplies to the zoo. Unexploded ordnance was found around and within the Zoo, and some buildings had been damaged by bombs.

"How they survived I do not know," Turner said.

Until the WSPA team arrived, the Zoo had been without electricity or running water. Other resources were in short supply as well, because helping the Zoo was not a high priority for most Afghans, who have had to struggle for their own survival. "Something can mean a lot to you, but there's nothing you can do about it," Turner said.

Turner views it as an encouraging development that the Zookeepers will soon have uniforms to wear. In a project such as this, he said, it is important to keep in mind that the aim is to help local people in their own efforts, not to be a hero. "You go into a situation, you go and talk to the people, ask them what they want, make sure they have ownership," he said.

Rosevear agreed. "We want them (the Afghans) to call the shots," she said.

Turner said he was pleased to be able to share animal husbandry techniques and methods of environmental and behavioral enrichment for the animals, noting: "It's all about sharing ideas." The Afghan keepers were receptive to the ideas brought by the WSPA team, such as the "activity feeder" made for the Zoo's macaques.

Helping Animals and Helping People

Although the international effort to improve conditions at the Kabul Zoo has generally been lauded, Turner said some people see the concern as misdirected because it focuses on animals of Afghanistan while so many of the people may be starving. He acknowledged that it is a difficult issue, and said the question of priorities is a matter of personal opinion.

"Where do you start to say it's OK to help animals?" he said. "What's the cutoff point?" Helping animals did not mean he thought they were more important than people, he said. "I work with people and animals," he emphasized.

By: Paul Kalina, 28 June 2002

In Uganda last year, Hayden Turner realised a childhood dream when he met Jane Goodall and discovered he shared something in common with the celebrated anthropologist. Their respective careers had the same highly unlikely source. "We both blame our obsession with wildlife, travel and conservation on the humble chicken." Turner says.

"Both of us were to be found, or were lost, or were being called to dinner, because we never returned from the chicken coop, where we watched our first chicken hatch. We spent more time in our chicken coops than in our bedrooms." Turner explains. Television has a way of throwing up people from varied and unusual backgrounds, and Turner's trajectory from zookeeper to global adventurer and spokesman for 'responsible custodianship of the environment" is no exception.

After 10 years as a zookeeper specialising in African Mammals at Sydney's Taronga Park, he resigned. "I'd woken up every morning in Australia wishing that I was in Africa and I thought that's not the way to be. I wanted to wake up in Africa." With only two weeks to serve at the zoo before heading off to work on an Elephant Research Project in Zimbabwe, he was asked if he could conduct a VIP tour at short notice. Little did he know that his charges were two executives from the National Geographic Channel.

They asked him questions about what he would do in Africa and, two days later over lunch, Bryan Smith, then head of NGC Australia, now a senior vicepresident for worldwide production based in Washington .D.C, outlined his plans for Turner. "He said he'd give me a video camera to record a five-minute story every week. It could be about anything I liked: people, animals, food, travel, anything. And that became Video Postcards." For the next two years, Turner travelled extensively throughout Africa, filing his weekly reports.

"I had no idea where it would lead. I thought I would have a great time and show people a few of my adventures. It was rough around the edges and thank God for the magical people in the editing room who could pull something together from the scrappy footage I sent back." Video Postcards led to segments on the series Earth Pulse, in which Turner documented his self-imposed challenge to travel from Africa to America with minimal environmental damage. From an office in London, where he expects to be based for the next few years, he announces with self-effacing modesty that he has been given his own series, Hayden Turner's Wildlife Challenge. It will screen in Australia on the National Geographic Channel next year. In this travel-natural history series, Turner visits wildlife areas around the world.

"I land in a city and I have $1000 to see whales in Baja California, snakes emerging from their winter dens in Manitoba, black bears in Minnesota." But it was in early January this year that Turner had the most exhilarating experience of his new-found television career. He joined a World Society for the Protection of Animals mission to Afghanistan to rescue seriously ill animals in Kabul's Zoo. As he and his crew emerged from the army transport plane, explosions reminded them they were in the middle of a war zone, but when they arrived in Kabul they were overwhelmed by the hospitality and optimism of the locals.

Though Kabul was relatively safe, he found himself in some hairy situations. Once, when walking through a section of the zoo, he was gripped by the realisation that the area had not been de-mined. In another instance, he found himself in a room where a cockfight was taking place. According to the interpreter, one of the men in the room was the most notorious gangster in Kabul. "He was not the friendliest of chaps, that's for sure." he recalls. Turner talks with idealism about the opportunity he has to stimulate people's interest in Wildlife and Conservation, "just as I had that opportunity when I was a youngster." but is down to earth about himself. "I'm a zookeeper, mate, and that's what I always will be. I'm nothing special. I'm a normal bloke who has had this opportunity to take people on an adventure."

"A lot of people say to me, 'Do you find it difficult when you're off the camera?', and I'm, like, no, because I'm just being myself. I'm the luckiest bloke on the planet because I get a chance to tell stories on camera exactly as I would do every day of my life."


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