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June 22, 2014: Defying Gravity With Our Dog, Stalking Snow Leopards and More

Snow leopards are well camouflaged and also so rare that conservationists will often go years without seeing one for themselves. National Geographic explorer Tatjana Rosen shares what it's like to protect what you can't see. (photo by James L. Amos / National Geographic)
Snow leopards are well camouflaged and also so rare that conservationists will often go years without seeing one for themselves. National Geographic explorer Tatjana Rosen shares what it’s like to protect what you can’t see. (photo by James L. Amos / National Geographic)

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 on radio, or listen below!

Hour 1

– Dogs are loyal, brave and love to go wherever their owners do. Climber, BASE jumper and wingsuit flyer Dean Potter took truism to its logical conclusion when he would bring his faithful companion Whisper, an Australian cattle dog, climbing with him throughout Yosemite National Park, which is Potter’s backyard playground. For the past decade, he’s been perfecting his wingsuit flying abilities and decided to share his love of flying with Whisper, sharing their gravity-defying activities in his new film, “When Dogs Fly”. No dogs were harmed in the making of this film – but one dog shared her owner’s love of briefly sharing the sky with the birds.

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– Iraq and Syria are locked in an ideological struggle for control between secular powers and fundamentalist forces looking to create Islamic states on Earth. But National Geographic photographer Reza Deghati sees more than religion on the line; Reza points to historical tensions that extend beyond the birth of Islam between Persians and Arabs, but he also sees tensions exacerbated by money and geography.

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– Archaeologists are regularly frustrated by grave looters who each want a slice of antiquity and the money that goes with pawning history on the black market. But high in the Andes, a previously unknown royal tomb gave scientists a clear glimpse into one civilization’s wealthy past. Heather Pringle shares her article “Untouched” in theJune 2014 issue of National Geographic magazine.

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– Snow leopards have low numbers and are one of the most elusive cats on the planet. They’re so elusive that in six years of working to protect the large felines, conservationist Tatjana Rosen has only seen them twice in their Himalayan range. Rosen explains the tense triangle between snow leopards, their endangered favorite food source, and local herders.

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– In our This Weekend in History segment, National Geographic Library research manager Maggie Turqman shares this weekend’s anniversaries including Diego Maradona’s 1986 “Hand of God” World Cup soccer goal, and the birthdates of Prince William, Edward Snowden and Jaws.

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Hour 2

– As the world continues to heat up, no landscape is more altered than the frozen poles. Explorer Eric Larsen just returned from what he billed as his “Last North Expedition,” a 53-day journey on foot to the North Pole. Larsen says that his third trip to the Pole saw more variable ice conditions than his previous expeditions in 2006 and 2010. He also spent a fair amount of time swimming across open sections of Arctic Ocean between sheets of ice. Larsen’s difficulties weren’t simply climate related: he was also the subject of curiosity from a pair of hungry polar bears.

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– The concept behind factory farms initially made sense: streamline the production of beef in the same way that the assembly line simplified the production of cars. But Philip Lymbery, author of Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat, explains that turning grains into a steak isn’t as simple an energy transaction as the early factory farmers may have anticipated. Animal overcrowding in unsanitary conditions forced farmers to pump livestock full of antibiotics to prevent infection, and feeding them grains that humans regularly consume have created a cascading effect impacts human health and where we search for our nutrition.

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– Everybody needs some help from time to time and the animals that call urban areas home are no exception. Washington DC’s City Wildlife has made it their business to care for all animals (except rabies vectors) that need some medical attention. Anne Lewis, City Wildlife’s President, explains that they don’t discriminate between animals that people enjoy, such as turtles and owls, and those that are less charismatic, like starlings, sparrows and opossums.

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– The Holocene epoch has been good to humans: the last ice age ended, we discovered agriculture, and we’ve generally blossomed in the friendly climate. But our wealth has caused carbon dioxide to skyrocket in recent years, committing humanity to live in a climate that is noticeably warmer and more dramatic than that of the Holocene. Many geologists are speculating that we’ve engineered the Holocene’s death and are entering what is being called the Anthropocene. Climate scientist Will Steffen explains the how the Anthropocene came to be and what it means for our future.

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– In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd reflects on his first trip to Africa, that was also his best ever trip to the continent. His memories have it as a non-stop wildlife festival of elephants, hippos, hyenas, wild dogs and food that didn’t agree with his stomach.

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