Biologist, Summerland resident, and host of Animal Planet’s Extinct or Alive series Forrest Galante loves getting wild. Some have suggested his “high-risk wildlife biology,” as he puts it, compares to that of Steve Irwin, Jacques Cousteau, or Bear Grylls, all high praise Galante humbly takes in stride as we sit under palm trees where Galante just finished playing with the Santa Barbara Grunions rugby team.
Originally from Zimbabwe, Galante was surrounded by wild animals from a young age. He turned this love of animals into his life’s work, and after getting a degree in biology with an emphasis in herpetology and marine biology from UCSB, he spent years working as a freelance scientist.
“I did a ton of work on the Channel Islands, a ton of the restoration work; worked with eagles; with foxes; worked with salamanders; a lot of abroad work with sea turtles; with elephants; a lot of rattlesnake work; a lot of different animal work all over the world,” Galante said.
One night, while watching Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid ― a show where ordinary people are dropped into the wild and left to fend for themselves, totally naked ― his wife suggested that he would be a great contender. Already an accomplished spear fisherman and adventurer, Galante turned out to be one of the show’s highest-rated competitors.
Realizing the opportunity to get his conservation message out to a wider audience, Galante came up with the idea for a TV show about animals that have been declared extinct. “In season one, we discovered a 100-pound Zanzibar leopard that was thought to be extinct,” he explained. “It was a great scientific discovery that literally rewrote the textbooks. In season two, Extinct or Alive has gone to a whole new level. We further uncover biological mysteries and incredible findings from around the world.”
(Spoiler alert: In season two’s first episode, we see Galante rediscover a giant Fernandina tortoise on a remote volcanic island in the Galápagos.)
Extinct or Alive season two premieres on Animal Planet on Wednesday, October 16, when Galante will start wandering through the jungle, swimming in the ocean, and dangling off cliffs in search of creatures we were certain had gone the way of the dodo.