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Much Maligned Species get an Extreme Makeover

10 September, 2004

NHNZ Gives Much Maligned Species an Extreme Makeover

A new television special will give a total image makeover to that much maligned animal – the scavenger.

Scavenger Hunt, a co-production between Dunedin-based NHNZ and Animal Planet in the US, will use ‘crime drama’ techniques, a murder-mystery narrative and a pierced and tattooed presenter to bust a few myths about these well known, but poorly understood, animals.

The programme will be presented by 24-year-old Australian zoologist and scavenger expert Chris Coupland. With a tattoo of a Tasmanian Devil etched into his chest, Chris is definitely the new breed of scientist – hip, rough around the edges, but totally dedicated to the animals he works with. Producer of Scavenger Hunt, Judith Curran describes Chris as “a combination of punk looks, scientific credibility and incredible passion.”

“In Chris we have someone who will act as a ‘spin doctor’ for scavenger species. He loves them and understands them, and his knowledge and passion for scavengers will captivate the audience.”

Filmed in Australia and Southern Africa, Scavenger Hunt will examine the habits of iconic scavengers the Tasmanian Devil, the dingo, the red fox, the hyena, the Southern Vulture and the jackal. While the programme will explore the obvious scavenging abilities of each species, it will also show other sides of their behaviour. “Some aspects of scavenger behaviour may be a surprise. For example, hyenas hunt as much as they scavenge; and the noble lion scavenges as much as the hyena. Some of these scavenger species have suffered because they are associated with death but we’re going to show there’s more to them than just popular opinion and ancient folklore.”

The style of Scavenger Hunt will be fast and contemporary. Quick-fire editing and dramatic narrative techniques such as flashbacks puts this show on the cutting edge of the natural history genre. NHNZ is one of the world’s leading producers of factual programming embracing the genres of nature, health, science, adventure, and people.

With over 60 programmes currently in production, its crews work in locations around the world to produce a diversity of films for international broadcasters including Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, Discovery Health, National Geographic Channel, France 5, NHK in Japan and NDR in Germany. Based in Dunedin, New Zealand, the company is wholly owned by Fox Television Studios.


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