What if extinct animals were still out roaming the earth? I spoke with Wildlife Biologist, Forrest Galante, a Santa Barbara local and UCSB graduate about finding the truth behind extinct animals from across the globe. Galante told me about his new show, Extinct or Alive, where he travels the world in the hopes of finding evidence that particular species thought to be extinct, are actually alive. The show’s premiere aired on June 10 on Animal Planet.
In the premiere episode, spectators observe evidence of the Zanzibar Leopard, an animal last seen over 20 years ago and since considered extinct. Upcoming episodes explore the Madagascar Giant, the White Wolf of Newfoundland, the Florida Black Panther, and many more. Galante continues to look for extinct animals throughout the entire season, describing the show as fun, exciting, family-friendly, and full of wildlife. He says it inspires hope and conservation and allows viewers to travel all over the world without leaving their couch. New episodes of Extinct or Alive air on Animal Planet every Sunday at 9 p.m.
Although Galante was born in the United States, he grew up in Zimbabwe. As a child, he spent the majority of his time in the middle of the African bush. He kept busy by finding different ways to catch animals, snorkeling through murky water and crafting new fishing techniques. From when he was a kid and spent time looking for worm’s underneath rocks, to surviving on Naked and Afraid, Galante’s love and appreciation of nature have only grown larger. When it comes to a profession, he has always been on one track, working in wildlife. Galante went to UCSB because he knew he wanted to be a biologist, and received a degree in Marine and Wildlife Biology. One of Galante’s most beloved aspects of his job is the diversity of his explorations in wildlife every day.
Galante gained his fame after he was featured on Naked and Afraid back in 2013. Not only did Galante endure the 21-day challenge, but he enjoyed his time in nature and received the highest primitive survival rating in the history of Naked and Afraid for the Double Jeopardy episode. Naked and Afraid is seen as the Everest of survival challenges and Galante saw this as an opportunity to try and accomplish. Having a background in science was both an advantage and a burden because he was able to recognize all the safe food, but also the dangerous foods and parasites, which could be seen as intimidating. Finding food felt natural for Galante because he always collects his food, even while in Santa Barbara. His love and curiosity for exploration in nature are apparent through his actions and character on the show.
In our recent phone call, I asked Galante what he thinks the most important skill is, from his abundance of experience and knowledge of survival and nature. He said that the most important skill is resourcefulness. He believes so because “if you want your expedition to continue, you need to be open-minded and able to face new challenges.” He values the importance of flexibility because it allows one to adjust to sudden changes more smoothly and rapidly. Galante has found true enjoyment in influencing others. He sees his inspiration as an even greater accomplishment than any journey he has ever completed. Support a local Santa Barbarian and check out Extinct or Alive on Animal Planet Sunday nights at 9 p.m.
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