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May 19, 2013: Surviving the Coldest Journey, Showering with Elephants and More

Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend.

Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend, or pick your favorite segments and listen now below!

Episode: 1321 – Air Date: May 26


Called the world’s greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes has crossed both poles, climbed Everest and raced deserts. As he has aged, his expeditions grew no less challenging. Currently, his team is attempting to make the first winter crossing of Antarctica in The Coldest Journey. Unfortunately Ranulph was forced to leave the team when frostbite shortened his expedition. He joins Boyd to discuss polar exploration and the unique way in which he treated his own frostbite. Segment 1: Listen here.
Segment 2: Listen here.

Haiti is well known for its hard luck when it comes to natural disasters and a place where development is hard earned. In her new book, Haiti from BelowNathalie Brunet endeavored to show what was hiding off the Haitian coast in its reefs. She tells Boyd that fishing is not well regulated and the wildlife suffers from illegal poaching, but the most beautiful part of Haiti may be hidden beneath the waves. Listen here.

Caring for a 2.5 ton creature isn’t easy for a human 4,900 pounds lighter, but the Marie Galloway, Elephant Manager at Washington’s National Zoo relies on the pachyderms, as well as a trained team of humans, to provide some assistance. They start each day with a bath, that requires the elephants to lie on their sides so their backs can be properly scrubbed, before they’re released into their brand new Elephant Community Center, where they have a chance to coat their still-wet bodies with dirt. Listen here.

David Braun, editor of National Geographic’s Daily News, points out that animals are often good at taking advantage man-made shortcuts, including public transportation. He brings several stories of train riding-pigeons, and bus-riding coyotes and monkeys. Listen here.


Many people can’t resist answering the call for a life of speed and adventure. Jamie Lafferty is not one of those people. He recently joined a team for the British Bobsleigh Championships and competed against the teams that will ultimately represent Great Britain at the upcoming Sochi Olympics. He survived the high speeds clocked on the ice and proudly wears the bronze medal his team earned. Listen here.

Papua New Guinea’s birds of paradise come in all shapes, sizes and colors. The 39 species of the same family have wild plumage, distinct dances and come in crazy colors designed to attract mates, one of which include clearing a dance-floor of all debris to shake their feathers to impress their potential partners. National Geographic photographer Tim Laman and ornithologist Ed Scholes share their tales of spending hours in bird blinds to bring paradise to National Geographic. Listen here.

The National Parks of the United States are so big, that many first-time visitors just scratch their surfaces upon initial visits. It takes hours lost in wilderness to learn their true wonders. Robert Earle Howells shares some of the secrets he learned from chatting with park rangers and getting lost himself for National Geographic’s new book, The Secrets of the National Parks. Listen here.

As Vietnam was long known as the epicenter for an ill-advised Cold War proxy fight between democracy and communism, and largely because of that legacy, the country’s remotest corners have been avoided by science and tourists alike. Dan Drollette documents in his new book Gold Rush in the Jungle: The Race to Discover and Defend the Rarest Animals of Vietnam’s “Lost World”, as biologists are entering places long undisturbed, they are discovering strange new fauna that would be difficult to miss, including a barking deer, and a relative of the Javan rhino. Listen here.

In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd shares some of his favorite elephant watching moments, including a watering hole play-fight between some adolescent males. Listen here.