Growing up in Ontario, Canada, I avidly remember watching TV shows such as Zoboomafoo and Wild Kratts when I was in elementary school. These shows were probably the ones that got me really interested in ecology, zoology in particular.
My friend in the U.S. says that along with Wild Kratts, shows like Nature Cat were pretty popular in her locality.
I’m interested in knowing what other TV shows/child-aimed movies people viewed in their childhood (or adulthood…who am I kidding, I still watch Wild Kratts out of nostalgia) that may have impacted their interest in ecology!
In the 50’s and 60’s, we avidly watched all the iterations of weekly Walt Disney broadcasts (e.g., Walt Disney Presents, the Wonderful World of Disney, Magical World of Disney), which included some great nature shows along with the fiction and fantasy episodes. Wild Kingdom (Mutual of Omaha) was also a favorite.
I watched Wild Kratts when I was a small child but I don’t watch it anymore but I think it started my interest in wildlife.
When we were kids, we weren’t allowed to watch much TV, but sometimes nature shows got a pass. There was a show called “Wild America” on PBS that we were sometimes allowed to watch. As I remember it, it was a little corny and focused on charismatic megafauna/game type species, but we still liked it! I’m much more into organisms that aren’t charismatic megafauna/game type species though, so not sure if it had a major impact.
Wild Kingdom. Marlin Perkins and his assistant lassoing and then wrestling an anaconda in water probably led me into herpetology.
I’ll add a second for Marty Stouffer’s Wild America!
Don’t forget about the great show NATURE on PBS for the past 40 years.
Hinterland Who’s Who is an iconic Canadian series that helped spark my interest in nature. For context: HWW started in 1963 as one-minute films about a particular species. The films were created by the Canadian Wildlife Service and the National Flim Board. Subjects were signature Canadian wildlife like the Common Loon or Grizzly Bear. HWW episodes often turned up as part of commercial breaks during other programs (especially children’s shows on CBC). I’m sure a lot of Canadians my age will instantly recognize the flute solo that was the series’ theme tune. HWW was relaunched on the series’ 50th anniversary. Some of the early films are available on Youtube - the Snowy Owl episode is here, and the Woodchuck episode is here.
As a kid I remember really enjoying watching stuff like this. I’m really trying to put on my remembering hat now, there were a bunch of TV shows like that on Animal Planet of Discovery or wherever. I remember watching Crocodile Hunter (bless Steve Irwin), that wildlife show by Jeff Corwin, The Most Extreme, that Austin Stevens guy, and oh dear its getting difficult to remember but I bet there’s a few more there. I also enjoyed the Walking with Dinosaurs, Walking with Beasts series. But by far the best ones are the David Attenborough BBC documentaries, especially the Life Of, Planet Earth, and Blue Planet series.
Not a TV show but I loved the Ranger Rick magazines when I was a kid (US 1980/90’s). I also watched nature shows like Wild America with my dad.
Yes! And My Big Backyard for younger children.
I got those for my children, and the younger daughter is a park ranger now!
I watched a lot of Octonauts as a kid.
I’m a Boomer from Southern California, so my earliest interest in nature was definitely influenced a lot by Disney. In particular, the Academy Award-winning 1951 short film Nature’s Half Acre really sparked my interest–since I grew up on a half-acre plot of land! Here’s a YouTube upload of the film.
I still watch Wild kratts too… still sad they didn’t make an episode on jumping spiders.
I very fondly remember Jacques Cousteau films.
As 5 or 6 year old kids growing up in Germany in the 1980s we always watched re-runs of a show called “Biene Maja” on TV - it was about a little bee who meets a lot of other anthropomorphized insects in the forest and meadow. It definitely was an early factor in raising my interest in nature and also where I first learned details about the most common insect types. I think to this day when I differentiate between bees and wasps and bumble bees and hornets I have the corresponding characters from that show in my mind
Humans only appeared in a few episodes as big feet coming down from the sky and those episodes also touched on subjects like habitat destruction and importance of environmental protection. I remember I had nightmares about the episode where the farmer sprays pesticides over his field and some of the characters almost die - 1980s children’s TV was harsh (I think they also made newer movies and shows based on the same books but I know nothing about those.)
I loved the Hinterland Who’s Who shorts when I was a kid. They have been hilariously parodied over the years. See this parody about spiders on drugs or this commercial about the North American house hippo.
I also loved Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom until I realized that too many of the shows wildlife encountered were staged. Also, like @ItsMeLucy I watched every Jacques Cousteau film I could.
Also not TV, but I collected the entire set of the original ‘Bugs’ magazines, when I was a kid. They were great. I still have them all (at my parents’ house!). I’m slightly disturbed to see some on ebay being advertised as ‘vintage’!
My formative years included watching Marty Stouffer’s Wild America and Nature on PBS and reading Ranger Rick magazine.
Magazines: My Big Backyard then Ranger Rick
Books: A lot of Jaque Coustou (his films too) because i loved marine biology. Also Karen Pryors books on marine biology and behaviour. Imagine my surprise 20 years later getting into dog training and seeing clicker training that grew from her work talk about full circles. I was reading her work when i was 6 or 7 years old. Not typical reading I suppose but autistic with special interests lol i was reading at adult levels at a young age (comprehending, too. I have vivid memory being 8 and winning the state fair over all the age and adult categories in pocket pets - all the small rodents - because I explained why mine was the color it was because of genetics, and taught the judges all about it!).
I grew up with US public broadcasting so any PBS episode about animals or marine life especially. I also remember Jack Hannas show on Saturday mornings. And later Steve Irwins show. There was also some specials that Robbin Williams hosted about dolphins we recorded off the TV id watch over and over.
I didnt have access to BBC until adulthood but of course anything David Attenborough narrated then. Probably seen it all.