Man can have but one interest in nature, namely, to see himself reflected there; and we quickly neglect both poet and philosopher who fail to satisfy, in some measure, this feeling. John Burroughs, A Year in the Fields.
When was the last time you saw a wild animal? Leaving out pets, squirrels, and pigeons, there’s a good chance it was in one of two places: Youtube, home of hilarious cat videos emailed by colleagues (like this one) or in a wildlife film.
Wildlife films are remarkable intersections between human and animal life at both the level of their production by naturalists and filmmakers and their consumption by the public. This film genre has been a major player in the 20th century relationship between the public and the “wild,” however construed. And even though the science of animal behavior seems to have reached more people through wildlife on film than any other modern medium, the topic remains for the most part unexplored in the field of history and philosophy of science. I think wildlife films have a tremendous amount to offer interdisciplinary accounts of the relationships between human beings, biology, and wildlife.