Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Nicky Campbell

nicky campbell

I’m wild about…

Renowned radio and television broadcaster and journalist Nicky Campbell, presenter of Radio 5 Live’s Breakfast Show and BBC One’s The Big Questions and ITV's Long Lost Family, tells us the things that drive him wild.

When did you first come across Born Free?
I have been presenting studio debate shows for more years than I care to remember. In roundabout 1989 I think, we were having a heated TV row about the merits and otherwise of zoos. Will Travers was on the panel and I remember (as the impartial host ) being swayed by his arguments. I also have met Virginia McKenna over the years on several programmes. Eventually any right-minded person has to submit to the logic and the unassailable moral arguments. As they say on reality TV - "we are all on a journey".

Which Born Free campaigns have made a real impact on you?
Any and every single one that takes the side of the beautiful creatures we are privileged to share this planet with. The campaign is very powerful, profoundly depressing, but so so hugely important. What is happening is nothing less than a crime against humanity because the sheer mad folly of what is taking place so diminishes us as a species. A world without the African Elephant would be a world with a tarnished soul.

Which is your favourite wild animal?
I am fascinated by evolutionary biology so I am the equivalent of a train spotter in that regard so I must admit to being mesmerised by our closest relatives - Chimps and Bonobos. Also, although slightly more distant, gorillas as well. They are so like us - not just genetically, biologically and anatomically but also in spirit. We have more in common with them than the “we are special” brigade will ever admit. Often however it is a case of covering their eyes and ears and going “la la la”.  Their intelligence never fails to amaze with every new scientific discovery.  

Do you have a special wild place?
I love the far North Western Highlands of Scotland. One Christmas I was walking with my dogs on a road above a sea loch and they spotted an otter about 200 yards ahead of us. My Labrador and my Westie raced towards it and I feared the worst ; a lab with his eyes scratched out. But no. They slowed down as they got near, the otter turned round , the three of them sniffed each other and then respectfully went on their separate ways. As the otter slid into the sea with that wonderful grace, I wished I had had my phone to film it but the it probably would never have happened if I had.

What is the best way to relax?
With wife and daughters (I have 4) and our two dogs. A gin and tonic, a bowl of nuts and a quality film. I don't go to the cinema though. I am not fond of people eating noisily all the way through. Sorry if I sound a bit eccentric.

What is the soundtrack of your life?
All sorts. Beatles , Jazz, Classical, Bowie. I also write music professionally so it integral to my life (and well-being).

Which animal causes are you passionate about?
I am doing what I can at the moment to highlight the dire plight of the African Elephant. Their intelligence is astonishing and our greed is disgusting. Talk about the slaughter of the  innocents. But look around the world and there are so many causes. I do find it sickening to see wild animals demeaned and  dressed up to perform in circuses. Sometimes I earnestly wish there was an afterlife so these people would get their comeuppance. Here endeth the lesson.

Any environmental issues that drive you mad?
Many. From litter to leopards but let me tell you a phrase that drives me mad. When there has been some appalling atrocity with many people maimed and murdered. Some say “They behaved no better than animals". Tell me - what other mammal apart from ourselves would behave like that?

A distinguished Muslim journalist said that human beings without morals were no worse than animals. Now I would never criticise his religion - whatever gets you through the night and all that - but I emailed him to explain that there are many species we have much to learn from in terms of love and loyalty and social cohesion. He is a good man and he took my point with good grace, acknowledging that it was a knee-jerk phrase that he hadn't really thought through.

How could we all make the world a better place?
Compassion for each other, compassion for animals and education so that people understand what 'sentience' means.

Why are you wild about Born Free?
A great organisation with people who care passionately about what they do. They make a real difference and are such an important voice to remind people what we have and what we are in danger of losing.  I am also very fond of the song.

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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