Bites at Animal Planet

Behind the Scenes

16 Apr

Getting to Know Greenland: Meet Flemming Bisgaard

Contributed by Betsy Sanner Ayala

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Flemming Bisgaard is the head of Bisgaard Trading in the heart of Ilulissat, Greenland right in Disko Bay. He has been a pilot for Air Greenland for over two decades and is one of about half a dozen specially designated pilots who fly the Sikorsky helicopter, which acts as an ambulance in the air.

For approximately six months out of the year he is on call for any emergency that may arise in all of Greenland. Last year when we were filming in Greenland, a very unfortunate event happened where four people were flown into Nuuk in a helicopter from Siorapaluk, which is over 1,000 miles away from Nuuk by air. Due to a terrible case of botulism from eating Kiviak, or auk birds preserved in the hollowed-out body of a seal, one elderly man died. The unknowingly bad Kiviak was then served at his funeral where it was eaten again, and his daughter died. Flemming and his fellow pilots are on call for such emergencies.

Flemming was also the head of operations for the Ice Cold Gold crew when we shot in Ilulissat, serving Josh Feldman and Eric Drummond.

[Catch an all-new episode of Ice Cold Gold Thursday at 10PM E/P!]

1) Where are you from? How would you describe the town where you live?

I was born just a few hundred meters from the coast of the North Sea in a small fishing town called Jutland, Denmark. That’s probably why I had such a good feeling about Ilulissat, Greenland. I had my first job in Greenland in 1995 where I worked as an apprentice for a (black)smith. Soon after I started my helicopter pilot education, and was hired the year after on the Sikorsky helicopter in Ilulissat. I have been working 3 weeks on and 3 weeks off ever since.

The Town of Ilulissat is the most perfect and special place. Normally the weather is very good, and the sun shines almost 24 hours a day during the four summer months. There are a lot of fishing activities in Ilulissat with 4,500 citizens and about 3,000 dogs. All the sled dogs are used only for working. When it’s tourist season the town becomes very active with lots of cruise ships and many visitors.  

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10 Apr

Getting to Know Greenland: Meet Finn Siegstad

Contributed by Julie Brothers

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Finn Siegstad is the Key Account Manager for the charter division of Air Greenland. Air Greenland has one of the most versatile fleets in the world, considering the size of the country, the terrain and the weather.

These helicopters must cover it all, everything from taking locals to other parts of the country to performing search and rescue missions.

60 of the 72 populated areas of Greenland are connected via helicopter transport – since the 1960’s the presence of these helicopters in Greenland has been vital.

[Tune in for a brand new episode of Ice Cold Gold tonight at 10PM E/P!]

1) How long have you been working for Air Greenland, and where are you originally from?

I am from Ilulissat, Greenland in Diskobay. I have been working for Air Greenland for 6 years now. Before that I worked for a helicopter company named Air Alpha, operating in the Diskobay area and East Greenland. I have been working within the aviation business for over 20 years.

2) How many helicopters are on Air Greenland's fleet? What purposes do they serve?

We have 22 helicopters. 12 AS350’s, 8 Bell 212’s and 2 Sikorsky 61’s.

The AS350 helicopters are mostly used within the mining industry. Bell 212 are scattered around Greenland, their main purpose is to fly the locals between villages and towns, which connects them to the rest of the world. Sikorsky-61’s are stand-by helicopters for Search and Rescue missions and medical use.

These various helicopters help in maintaining the communication systems within Greenland coast as well as aid in small miscellaneous flights for tourist, scientists and other travellers.

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2 Apr

Getting to Know Greenland: Meet Grace J. Heindorf Nielsen, Greenland Production Manager, Ice Cold Gold

Contributed by David Casey

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Credit: Danny Long

Grace J. Heindorf Nielsen is co-founder of Bmg-Greenland, a travel management company based in Nuuk, Greenland. Grace has worked over ten years in the Greenlandic tourism industry. She has a wealth of experience in planning tours, shore handling for cruise companies, conferences and general office management. Grace has extensive knowledge of the local community, its history, cultural values and people. She usually knows whom to contact to get something done. She is fluent in English, Danish and Swedish and speaks some German.

Grace has worked as the Greenland Production Manager for both seasons of Ice Cold Gold.

[Watch an all-new episode of Ice Cold Gold Thursday at 10PM E/P!]

1.) How did you come to Greenland as a child? Was there something that you fell in love with about Greenland that made you stay?

I was born in Helsinki, Finland. My mother was from the USA and my father from Denmark. We moved here when I was nine years old. My parents wanted to tell people about the Bahá’í Faith. I grew up here and Greenland is my home.  Fresh air, clean water, wide-open spaces, friendly people and it never gets miserably hot.

2.) Tourism is steadily growing in Greenland. How did you get into the industry? 

On a fluke, actually. A friend of mine was running a little tourist office in 1992 and when a cruise ship came to town she needed a guide who could speak English. I wasn’t sure how it would work out, but decided if it was a disaster, at least I would never see those folks again. As it turned out, it went really well and I found a new calling.    

3.)Icg-photo What are some of the misconceptions that people have of Greenland and Greenlanders?

I think for many visitors, we are a much different society than they expected. Some are floored by our level of sophistication and modernity. They are shocked we have cars. While others sometimes seem frustrated that not everything can run like clockwork. Most are not prepared for how much the weather impacts on our lives and plans.

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27 Mar

Getting to Know Greenland: Meet Malik Lynge Papis

Contributed by David Casey

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Malik Lynge Papis is French, Greenlandic and Danish. His Danish side can be traced back to the founding fathers of Greenland. Malik was the base camp manager for Ice Cold Gold Season 1.  He is the owner of Inuit Resources, an exploration services company serving international mining companies such as Sixty Degree Resources. Malik was also an instrumental source of local information for the team of miners. 

1.) Tell us about yourself: where you're from, the work you do, and how you got to be where you are now.

My Name is Malik Lynge Papis (Malik means Wave in Inuit). I am half Inuk, half French with some Norse and Greek heritage. I was born and raised in Nuuk, though I traveled to Europe throughout most of my childhood. In 1997 I had the opportunity to go to the inland ice to work on a drilling project. Since then, mineral exploration has become my passion and way of making a living. I have done everything from drilling and prospecting to channel sampling, mapping, grade verification, granulometry, environmental sampling and measuring. I have operated heavy equipment, supplied local labor to mining operations, handled logistics, contracting and have even peeled potatoes in the field. There is always something to do in the field.

[Watch an all-new episode of Ice Cold Gold TONIGHT at 10PM E/P!]

2.) You were the base camp manager for the first season of Ice Cold Gold. What did the job entail, and what was a typical day like for you at base camp?

The job was to design the camp and handle its budgeting and construction. I installed the electricity and hot and cold water as well. There is no typical day in any camp. But with Ice Cold Gold a "usual" day could include: hauling equipment and supplies, refueling the generator, constructing outhouses, building evening campfires, cooking, cleaning, and ordering supplies.

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20 Mar

Emergency rescue: Operation Greenland

Contributed by Tanny Por

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Chief Executive Officer Anne-Marie Ulrik in the Northern city of Aasiaat, where she lived until last April.

When life-threatening emergencies occur in tiny and distant Greenlandic settlements, what happens? The reality is tough, tells Executive Medical Officer of Greenland, Anne-Marie Ulrik.  

Fifty-seven, give or take. That’s the number of inhabitants who live in the northernmost settlement in Greenland, Siorapaluk. Located 77 degrees North, it’s a quiet and isolated village surrounded by grand mountains, ice and the cold sea. Traditional living is inevitable up here; hunting walrus, polar bears and seal is the way of life. 

You can imagine that for a village this size, everybody’s hit when tragedy strikes. Certainly, this was the case in 2013 when ill-prepared traditional food prompted a bizarre turn of deadly events.

GREENLANDIC TRADITIONAL FOOD GONE WRONG

Like everywhere else in the world, Greenlandic traditional cuisine is influenced by the surrounding nature. Life wasn’t easy for the Inuit ancestors, who lived in harsh polar conditions without the ease of modern technology. Learning traditional ways of preserving food was necessary for survival.   

Unfortunately for the residents of Siaropaluk last year, a special traditional meal of eider birds in a seal buried underground was not prepared properly. The food became toxic and resulted in the death of a man. Due to his old age, nobody suspected that he had suffered from botulism, a toxic form of food poisoning. Suspicions only arose when six other people got sick after the same meal was served again at the man’s funeral. The man’s own daughter also died.

[Tune in for an All-New Ice Cold Gold Tonight at 10PM E/P!]

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13 Mar

Getting to Know Greenland: Meet Chef Ilannguaq Hegelund

Contributed by David Casey

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Chef Ilannguaq Hegelund

Two summers ago, I took a cast and crew of 26 above Nuuk (the capital) to a secluded island in the biggest fjord system in the world.  It's amazing, dangerous, and beautiful. 

We'd come to expect 24-hour sunlight, aurora borealis, and the most impressive scale in the world.

What we didn't plan on was being fed by one of the best young chefs I've ever met, Ilannguaq Hegelund.  Our base camp was made of two-by-fours, plywood and a 40 kilowatt generator, yet he put together some amazing dishes made from only Greenlandic ingredients, including Reindeer, Arctic Char, Red Fish, and Salmon every night.  We used Angelika, thyme, and crowberries, which the whole crew helped harvest.  You can’t hunt or fish on a mining permit, so everything was purchased from local hunters and fishermen.

Currently, Ilannguaq Hegelund is a chef at the restaurant Sarfalik located at the four star Hotel Hans Egede in Nuuk, Greenland’s capital.  Besides working in high-end restaurants and hotels, he has worked summers on fishing boats and mining camps of all size.  He recently won Greenland’s Chef of the Year award in 2013.

Hegelund has worked with Sixty Degree Resources as a chef for the last two summers.

1.) Could you tell us where you're from and what your childhood was like?  

I am 24 years old and was born in Paamiut, a small town south of Nuuk.  My family moved to Denmark when I was four, so my mother could pursue a higher education.

My fondest memories of my childhood in Denmark are playing in the mountains, sailing, fishing, hunting, and eating our freshly caught fish.  We used to pick berries and gather herbs in the summertime in the mountains.  In the winter, snow was of course, the highlight.  It was easy to adjust to life in Denmark and I had a lot of friends.  I quickly forgot the Greenlandic language, though I knew I was a Greenlander at heart.

We moved back to Greenland when I was 14. It was a strange but wonderful transition.  The town where we lived in Denmark for 10 years had the same population as the entire country of Greenland!  Needless to say, it was a huge culture shock.  I had to learn Greenlandic again and was determined to do so, and it came quickly.

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7 Jan

Kohl the Penguin: The Ultimate Saints Fan

The NFL playoffs are officially in full swing and each week the road to the Super Bowl becomes narrower.  Remaining clubs leave it all out on the field for the good of the team and for the pride of their city.  Millions of fans pack pubs and houses making sure not to miss a single second of football greatness.  In recent years, the game has grown so large that it has transcended beyond the boarders of the United States and into other parts of the world.  Who would have thought that America’s most popular sport would transcend even to the Animal Kingdom?

Kohl the Penguin is one feathered football fanatic who has a lot to say about the matter.

 

Rooting from his hometown at the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans, Kohl not only declared who he thinks will win the whole shebang but also gave us some great Twitter commentary on the January 4th game.

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Kohl’s signature rally-call for a Saints victory is not easily duplicated by the human species.  He claims it’s the “good-luck chant” that spurred the Saints’ to their most recent victory.  It’s caught on enough that the rest of the colony at the Audubon Aquarium of America’s has decided to join in!

Hear their rally-cry daily on the Animal Planet L!VE’s African Penguins Cam>>

Check out other great cams on APLIVE! >>

14 Aug

Real Time Rescue Report: Notes From Villalobos

Surprisingly Human isn't just our catch phrase – it's a way of life and a mantra that all who walk among the walls of Animal Planet live by daily. Over the course of this blog we've done our best to share our stories of what it's really like to work here. More often than not they are a ton of fun and show off what a bunch of goofballs we all really are. Other times, we are reminded of why we bring you these sometimes difficult to tell and always inspiring stories of every day people dedicating their lives to animal conservation and awareness.

Recently on a shoot Pit Bulls & Parolees Executive Producer Lisa Lucas witnessed an incredible rescue. Her words are ahead.

 

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13 Aug

Never Before Seen Footage: Skua as a Baby!

The Audubon Aquarium introduced three new Penguins into their Penguin Exhibit a few months ago.  Born in March of this year, the Penguins look happy, healthy, and are exploring their new environment.Skua in Hand

As a teaser for their webisode series “The Real Wild Animals of New Orleans” airing on Thursday at 7:00 PM ET, the folks at the Audubon have released never before seen video of one of the babies, Skua, as a little chick.  The GIF taken from the video will definitely score points in the cuteness department!

Hinted on the Audubon Zoo Facebook page, this is one of three clips that will lead up to Thursday’s premiere.  Check out the page to see the cuteness unfold in the video and make sure to watch their original webisode devoted to these tuxedo boys and girls.

In the meantime, see if you can spot the chicks on the Penguin Cam at APL.TV! 

11 Mar

Animal Planet and Internet Cat Video Fest Play at SXSW

 

 

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Animal Planet staffers with Jackson Galaxy and representatives from the Walker Art Center at Animal Planet's SXSW happy hour.

 It’s not the internet without cats, right? So you can’t possibly have the largest interactive festival in the country without a few, too. That’s why Animal Planet, in conjunction with the Walker Art Center, originator of the Internet Cat Video Festival, presented “The Cats Live Here” happy hour this week at South by Southwest. 

The goal? To highlight the best of internet cat videos –and bring some cat-loving, cocktail drinking folks together for one [my-cat-from]-hell of a night. Guest appearances by Jackson Galaxy, host of Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell,” and musician Emily Bell rounded out an evening filled with some of the most famous cat videos of all time, including the “Henri” series (below), Maru and one of the oldest internet cat video legends, Keyboard Cat.

 Here's what Jackson had to say:

 

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Welcome to the Bites @ Animal Planet, where you can connect with the people who bring Animal Planet to life. Find out what's in the works here at Animal Planet, share your feedback with the team and see what's getting our attention online and in the news.

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