Natasha Daly—a staff writer for the National Geographic, where she wrote the June cover story, “The Hidden Cost of Wildlife Tourism”—addresses her role as the magazine’s “wildlife crime reporter,” how she landed on that beat, and what sort of stories she’s written in that capacity. Daly outlines the approach that she and photojournalist Kirsten Luce followed, pursuing preordained animal encounters and countries, leaving enough slack in the game plan to improvise, veering off to report on new sorts of animal experiences they discovered/heard about. For example, Daly recalls that while in Russia, covering various attractions with bears and other animals they anticipated there, she and Luce got wind of an unexpected enterprise in that country: A traveling marine park of sorts—a pop-up aquarium constructed in an inflatable tent—featuring performances by beluga whales, caught in Russian waters, and trucked from one show location to the next. Daly also speaks about Meena, an elephant in Thailand who becomes a central character in her piece, in part because Meena has a spiked shacklewhen she’s chained, which her handler told Daly was to curtail her kicking and only applied during parts of the day, never at night. (Intrepid reporter that she is, Daly checked on Meena one night, and disproved that contention.) She also points out that, though rare, there are facilities that observe basic tenets of animal welfare, like Elephant EcoValley, where the animals are unchained and the human-pachyderm interaction is limited to snack time with a fence separating the participants. Daly also touches on a major theme of her article: the way travelers looking to post selfies and other pictures on their social media feeds have exacerbated the harsh conditions for countless animals across the globe that are part of the wildlife tourism trade. [Photos by Kirsten Luce/National Geographic]
ALSO: I played “Happiness,” a track from the new Rebekah Pulley album, “The Sea of Everything,” the sixth full-length studio recording by the Saint Petersburg-based singer-songwriter. Pulley is not only an exceptional, accomplished musical artist, she’s a notable and highly-appreciated denizen of the “Talking Animals” world. That’s because Pulley composed and recorded the jaunty opening “Talking Animals” theme that kicks off the program each Wednesday morning. (http://www.rebekahpulley.com)
COMEDY CORNER: Martha Kelly’s “Animal Road Trip” (https://www.MarthaKelly.net)
MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” and her new song, “Happiness,” instrumentals
NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.
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