I’m a biologist … or, rather, I was a biologist. Technically speaking, I still am, but I’m no longer paid to be one. Today I’m a television host, author, writer. How did that happen? Let’s take things one at a time!
I graduated from the University of Milan, where I also completed my research doctorate. All my studies focused on acoustic communication and animal behaviour, particularly that of African parrots. To look for them I crossed the savannahs of Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. During that time, I put all my enthusiasm and curiosity into this research, but without any prospects for the future.
In 2001 I had a sort of “sliding doors” experience. A crew from the Macchina del Tempo Channel, a satellite channel of documentaries and scientific information, came to the lab to interview me. The producer put a camera in front of me and said, “Why don’t you tell us about how your parrots live? … You have three minutes.” In three minutes I described these intelligent birds, which fall in love, take care of their offspring, learn and teach, dance and sing – a unique song and dance for each couple – and can make love longer than any living being with the exception of humans.
In short, at the end of the day I offered to work as a scientific consultant for the channel, which had just been set up, but instead they asked me to be an editor. MT Channel was a crazy training ground. I had to work in every field: journalist, writer, director, host. In 2005, after nearly five years, the channel was closed and I ended up writing for important television programmes like as “Saixchè” and “Solaris”.
It was during this period that I got a call from Guido, a writer friend, who asked me to help him create a show about nature. That show has been aired by La7 for seven years now and is called “Missione Natura”. Over the years, the formula has changed somewhat but the idea is still to talk about animals, magical places and peoples through my first-hand experiences.
If I think about it, since the days I worked at the university, things haven’t changed much. What I loved doing then was travelling to remote places, studying wild animals in their habitat and teaching. Yes, teaching, but perhaps a better word would be illustrating … illustrating biology and ethology to my students through my own experiences. It’s essentially what I do now, but in front of a camera rather than in a classroom.
Recently I have also had fun telling some of my stories in a book. It’s not the first one I’ve written, but all the others targeted a readership that was … a bit narrow. After all, who wants to read a book entitled “NOTES ON VERTEBRATE ZOOLOGY”?! A student … maybe. This new one is entitled “MISSIONE NATURA” … and I hope it will appeal to a few more readers.
Today my television experience is expanding. A few months ago another friend, Antonio, called me to say that SKY was starting a new channel: DEASAPERE. He told me it would be a channel aimed at Italian families with original formats to popularize science, nature, history, anthropology and everyday life. He asked me if I wanted to be involved and I said yes.
But that’s not all. I’ve also been working for the Rete 4 channel for a few weeks. I’m hosting a show that went on the air at the beginning of 2013, entitled “ALIVE STORIE DI SOPRAVVISSUTI”. In short, by now you’ve understood that essentially what I do is travel and illustrate … illustrate and travel, and my favourite trips and stories take place in Africa!!!