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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
"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."
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
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
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
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 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
"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
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
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."