At B&H’s Optic 2019, photographer Ron Magill shares his incredible love for wildlife through his photos, and he stresses that the beauty of photography lies in its ability to tell powerful visual stories. Ron’s tales are engaging and emotional, and he challenges fellow photographers to explore the fascinating world of taking photos of animals in wild. Check it out!
Ron Magill has worked with wildlife for over 30 years and has hands-on experience with a tremendous variety of animals ranging from crocodiles to eagles to cheetahs. An internationally recognized zoological authority who has appeared on a wide variety of local, national and international programs including National Geographic Explorer, the Today Show, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS This Morning, Dateline, CNN, and the Discovery Networks, Ron is a frequent wildlife analyst for MSNBC.
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but it is my pleasure and honor to introduce to you guys our first official speaker for our fifth installment of optic Ron Magill who is the chief photographer for the Miami zoo and it's just an amazing wildlife photographer Ron thank you very much it is such a privilege to be here ladies and gentlemen I am you know first of all I'm first and foremost as Wallace I'm a naturalist my whole thing is is protecting wildlife I've always been you know enamored with wildlife I grew up here in New York City moved down in Miami when I was 12 years old and you know I talked to kids today and kids are so lucky because you have this plethora of great programming you've got Animal Planet National Geographic Channel Discovery Networks you know when I was a kid there was one show those you may remember Sunday night 7:30 mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and I watched that show it was my church man I would go to church to watch that show and there was two people on show basically when I watched it was Marlin Perkins was the hosting of the guy was Jim Fowler you know we recently lost Jim Jim died two weeks ago two or three weeks ago now and he became a mentor to me he became one of my closest friends over the last 35 years and that's you especially you know why because they planted a seed in me to love wildlife these shows today I'm a little kind of skeptical about the programming today we're in such a sensationalistic world everything's like when animals attack the world's deadliest river monsters you know if I'm the kid watching this stuff I'm not gonna want to go out and explore while I live I'm afraid something's gonna kill me so I think we need to get back to planting the seed to get people fascinated with wildlife and that's my whole thing I'm a city boy the son of a Cuban immigrant I never thought I'd be able to do the things I've done and man I've been able to travel the world work with wildlife I know Ralph said there's supposed to be about the Arctic I didn't know I supposed to be about the Arctic I knew there was a lot of Arctic speakers in there so I said I'm not gonna put my Arctic stuff in there but it's gonna pay off compared to those guys so I'm gonna talk about other conservation stuff but it's about it's about our planet folks it's about conservation about climate change things that are happening so I said to myself you know I just got back from a trip that really blew me away we're always talking about polar bears and lions and tigers and you know big mega vertebrates right we don't take my bugs and we think about bugs I think about blue butterflies and I think what applies are cute people love to buy anything and they play a big role a man do we know the story about these monarchs you know I was a kid with 1976 the cover of National Geographic magazine was this woman surrounded by thousands of monarchs Mexican monarchs found their haven in Mexico was a cover story and I learned the story about these these incredible butterflies everybody knows monarchs we've all seen the Monarchs right there all over the country but do we know the story about the Monarchs especially our eastern monarchs here do we know that these monarchs folks every year they make one of the largest single migrations to any insect on the planet but we never really knew about it so what we did was we found out there was a so ologist a guy named dr. Hart who lived in Canada and he found out how to make these little tags that he put on monarchs and folks the story of the Monarchs is amazing because every monarch you see here today as part of a generation has started in a little central highland in Mexico okay they flew up and they came and you Frank they live for about five weeks they lay their eggs they die that generation flies a little further north goes up into the central United States lays their eggs after five weeks and dies that generation lays their eggs five five weeks and dies then the last generation that gets up into northern United States they lay their eggs and they die too but when those eggs hatch and in or the United States that generation is called the Methuselah generation it Liz for eight to nine months every generation only those five weeks this one's eight to nine months nobody knows why and then what's even more amazing is that these butterflies that hatch out sometimes in the southern part of Canada flight Oh way back to this little mountainside in Mitchell con Mexico where their great-great grandparents in the same trees started this incredible journey and they had never been there how does this happen hey you see am a monarch how do you tell the male monarch he's got the little thin lines get the little spots there on the bottom there's a female her veins are a little thicker no spots okay Misook on man so this little mountain site was a little farming town it was nothing they discovered totally by accident what happened was one of the citizens scientists he came out and he was traveling through Mexico because they started to tag these these monarchs he's travelling through Mexico and all of a sudden it was a huge storm and he came to this place in Michigan and thousands and thousands butterflies were dead on the street he goes why are all these butterflies falling out of the sky dead on the street and they got with the people of Mexico us again it's talking people it's cultures talking it's not separating things by political boundaries the world is one huge place and once we get to talk and we understand the Mexican people in their mouths oh yeah the models come here every year right around the end of October beginning of November that's our Day of the Dead that's our celebration because the Monarchs are the spirits of all of our lost ancestors to come back millions of them oh my god so they found that they went to this place and all of a sudden now miss yokan people when that article came out we gotta go see the Monarchs this is one of the greatest natural spectacles in the world I mean everything initially canals monarchs all the walls are painted all the stores are that way every square is that way there's signs all over the place to go to this place and 86 it was named the biosphere it's the most incredible place it's located the very top of this mountainside over 10,000 feet above sea level this is where them on our skull and how do they get there this is what was so amazing we found out that yes they use the Sun as a compass all the Monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains millions and millions of monarchs all funneled down into Mexico so we figured ok they use the Sun to do that but how do they get to that little mountain range that little tiny mountain main spot in the show con Mexico well that mountain range is made from it's the it's a trans volcanic belt in Mexico so there's a bunch of iron ore and metals that are forced into that volcanic range and when we looked at the cells the little scales on monarch butterflies they are packed with magnetite those butterflies are drawn to the mountain like a magnetic field it's just fantastic so you look at this stuff and you say okay this is where what you saw the little village you see what they were doing they started cutting down you see how they were cutting down all that that vegetation all the way up to the mountains that's this is that little mountainside where they all live these trees are oyamel fir trees over a hundred feet tall but they were cutting into it they got to the point where it got really dangerous until I said oh my god people are going to paid see her butterflies people who never knew he existed here are coming from around the world thanks to that National Geographic article that's the power of photography folks that's the power that we have we are storytellers we can plant seeds and people nothing tells a story better than an image we've got to use our images to tell stories to inspire people especially kids to care about that stuff there's an old saying that says in the end we protect what we love we love what we understand and we understand what we are taught so we were able to teach people look stop cutting down the forest the butterflies keep coming back and people will pay to come see your butterflies but we got a business now okay let's set it up let's set up the stands all kinds of butterfly stuff will sell all kinds of stuff the single greatest sanctuary in Mexico it's called every Lodi it's a Miculek on folks if you have not done this it's an easy trip it's not that difficult in Mexico City it's a three-hour drive you get a guide it's up there it's like ten thousand five hundred feet above sea level so you got to get in a little bit of shape but man you got to get there this place is called a little Saudi and it's this beautiful place basically taken over by the community they painted it up they've now when they originally opened they was you just had to walk up these hard dirt trails but now they make pass you can walk up these paths it's incredible you go up there like on the end of February is actually the best February to the beginning of March is the best because that's when it's warms up and you get to see the activity so I went there with my sunny side cuz she just I gotta see these butterflies you walk up in there signs a little place you can't touch the butterflies gotta speak slowly you can't use any flash everything's calm and it is flipping phrasing in the morning you go up there I mean it is freezing my son is that if dad what are we doing there's nothing's gonna live here this is ridiculous and I go do in the morning go what no butterfly soap here what are you crazy and the guy goes look and I look up at the trees and I'm thinking I'm looking at a bunch of dead leaves so what I see a bunch of dead leaves because everything's dead up here because there's freaking cold and you look closer and you realize it's millions I'm not I'm not talking hundreds I'm not talking thousands I'm not talking tens of thousands I'm not talking hundreds of thousands I'm talking millions of flippin butterflies they're all back together the entire canopy of all these trees is filled with butterflies but they're not moving they look like they're all dead because what happens is they are totally in a torpid state there until the Sun rises and the weight of the butterflies can be so much folks you're like in a forest but it's just totally silent we got up there early guys there's nobody there just me and the guy in my my son and we're looking at these butterflies like oh my gosh the weight is so hard that the branches will break the fall of the ground if they follow the ground the butterflies will die okay that's a matter of fact when you look at your feet when you get up above 10,000 feet the forest floor is a carpet of dead butterflies tens and thousands and thousands of butterflies but you look up and you see them all in these trees and it's just photographs don't do it justice you look at the the trunks of the trees you can't see the bark they're in there like scallops they're all packed together folks again there's no way to explain for you try to imagine this room when you couldn't see one bit of wall space nothing but solid butterflies everywhere you go and then the Sun starts rising and as the Sun starts rising you look at me to go all my gosh this is amazing it's phenomenal and all of a sudden the light goes and you see the butterflies start to separate themselves they start walking up towards the light as the light starts heating them up you start seeing them opening their wings and you start seeing the colors from that blazing dull gray white from the outside you start seeing the oranges start to pop as they start to open their wings and they start to shiver and you close your eyes and you hear butterflies floating there's so many of them actually fluttering this is hitting them they're coming in life they go into the top they're grabbing that son and that son is there like big like photocells they start to open their wings and then they start gradually to fly down to where they're getting the food to get the nourishment it's got it soon as it hits 60 degrees it's like 60 degrees on them they start fluttering and the Sun comes out and you see them come down and it's just this beautiful song of all these butterflies coming down and feeding and you don't even know where to shoot anymore there's so many flippin butterflies you going crazy you realize when you got back you took a thousand pictures of the same flippin thing because you didn't realize I'm sayin oh you go crazy you sit there shitty think oh my god this is unbelievable as magical as you sit there and you watch these butterflies going around and fine and it's flying all over the place and then you start realizing what's happening and you look straight up in the air this is the greatest feeling you can have folks you get on your back and you look up at the other military and you look up and it's just just millions of them they're flying they're flying over your head as far as you can go and then they open it to the public and the public comes in and you see them they're all watching the photograph they're only allowed to stay in the trails you know we were lucky we got some special permission from the government to go out to do I was doing a little thing for ABC News and we went out there and there butterflies everywhere you see the people are oh my gosh they're appreciating it because to the Mexicans these are the ancient ancestors that have come back of their past and the greatest gift you can have people bring their babies and if a baby's there and if a butterfly lands on the baby it's the graded blessing you can have when this happens people just go oh my god this is heaven it's one of the most beautiful things as a photographer oh my god it's just overdose you would just blow film like ready on the same crap you're shooting the same stuff over and over you because it's so beautiful no this was gonna be better this was gonna be no this was gonna be better you can't stop it's unbelievable it's a junkie thing man you gotta take this trip folks it's amazing and then what's amazing was as I'm looking on the ground on all the dead butterflies I look closely and I saw this Oh a tag one tag which I got the tag we call the number that butterfly that was there on the ground had come from Detroit Michigan it had been tagged in Detroit Michigan it's a bug that flew 2,000 miles plus to go to this forest folks it's amazing stuff think about it we think about nature what it does you know what they've done and how they blur now in Mexico to teach to inform when you're going around this is a trip that you have to do I brought my so or photographing these stuff surrounded by butterflies butterflies are landing on us left and right no matter what we're doing you can't do enough and then all of a sudden as the reason is the heat of the day you feel the butterfly start going down like a corridor we're going what otherwise like it's like this like a movie they're all flying follow him down where they going down to the creek bed to drink so you get down on the creek bed you get it oh my gosh the creek bed I get down in my stomach hair that doesn't believe oh my god if the carpet of butterflies as far as you can see these are the pictures I'm getting me in there with my white hang on just scooting on my brother and go look at him and butterfly she's flying just in front of you just nothing but thousands and thousands of butterflies it's almost a religious experience to see this folks it's a magic of nature and the positive thing is this for years that butterfly population was going down down down down because of of milkweed because of climate changed the droughts of saucer finally with all the big campaigns to get milkweed going and stuff again this past year the highest year in the last 15 years a hundred million monarchs a hundred million monarchs went back to Mexico this year so the message is getting out the message is you know me talking to you making you aware of what's going on with the monarchs to plant milkweed in your yard look at these animals and think of how incredible they are to look at think of what they do what they represent their pollinators folks they're helping create our environment they're helping protect our environment and they're indicators of our environment folks even if you don't like animals if you don't like nature look at it as the canary in the coal mine when animals start to suffer it's not going to be long before we also suffer and then you stay there and you watch the whole circle as the Sun starts to go down they start flying back up into the trees and you see all those cones start to develop again the bark is starting to fill in again all the scallops are coming in the butterflies are flying back in all of a second you see that all getting all clumped up and it's just beautiful you see them all go back to sleep the logs of trunks are filled they're taking the last ray of sunshine the last rays of light the light goes down and the forest is frozen again and the cycle starts all over again again we talk about lions we talk about bears we talk about penguins think about the little things it can be neat the stuff right in your own backyard a little flip and butterfly that you might see flying in your backyard and queens is headed down to Mexico it's really cool stuff all right now another story migrate I got time right on a second here yeah one yeah I got time I'm good I'm good this is my single favorite night and after I've been that for 253 times but this was that night that you just went oh my god wild hogs probably one of the most successful carnivores in Africa I've done a lot of work with them in Africa I've done some reintroduction programs we had a fight with it the rabies outbreak that this temper outbreak we were vaccinating dogs we did a lot of work with them out there I set my camera on remote next to a kill to get some pictures of the dogs coming in you know you sit fly like this is my job this is the biggest game in the world this job I have so so was sitting there and you see the dogs coming up to the camera but you watch these dogs this is in Botswana and it's fantastic in the Okavango Delta dogs incredibly social you see this hire hard to stab us out there and they make this great noise unbelievable it's not like any dog don't bark they make these noises that are just otherworldly like but you see them establish their dominance going over the hierarchy trying to go back and forth and folks another thing I want to point out you'll see some of these images and some of them are pretty good but for every good when you're seeing I took a hundred really sucked okay so I want to be a real with with you guys one of the greatest advantages we have today is digital photography why because you got the delete button okay the stuff I used to waste on filming years pass so when you're out here and doing this stuff shoot away man yes put the hammer down and there'll be people now that people say oh you know what that's no real that's called spray-and-pray bull okay that's that spray and pray because animals are doing things faster than you can see with your eye I can't tell you how many times I'm out in the field and I'm shooting and the dogs are doing stuff like this and I'm getting you think I could have gotten that set go away to me wait there it goes I got it oh come on come on so showed because I get back I'll shoot a shoot and sometimes I jump in the field but I usually don't because I'm so busy should but then I get back to camp and I'm going and I'm going thing you go through this ever happen to you you look at I think you never knew you got it but then you got it that's the great thing so these dogs establish a hierarchy you could watch this dynamic out in the field here you see the dominant alpha female okay you see other dogs look at her you know she's the boss that's the Queen right there she's the boss lady so we're watching it oh my god we found this packs from watching his pack and we're following them around and then all of a sudden we see the impalas I go bike oh he's been busted he goes to he goes to all this things he's gonna run he's gonna run he's gonna run but he's got no chance because he comes super dog and that dog comes dude and they're running and I'm saying oh my god are we gonna see this and I'm the only one where the car we're filing and I'll suddenly they got him they were across the water sure enough you gotta the Sun is setting I'm thinking oh my god we're the only ones here it's clear this understand I'm gonna have great light and we're watching these dogs in there and then also you see them look up I kind of go huh so I look over my shoulder it's a hyenas coming in and the science is fantastic oh my god I watched these dogs and watching suicide watch Nina kill the Sun is setting golden light and now a hyenas only one honey and I hain't he goes I got no chance okay so he sits down he watches the dog say okay he's gonna chance and I look over my other shoulder it's a lion the Lions coming now and this ladder go oh my god but there's water separating the lion from the kill but this is yoga vongole if you guys have been Africa you know those Lions in Tanzania and Kenya those are wimpy lions they're walking a puddle like they got cooties okay these Okavango lions they deal with the water man they live in the water they hunt the water they swim in the water so is this lion gonna cross the water to come get that kill from the dogs you better believe it baby so she's coming and this is a shot so I placed myself right between I put my truck right between myself and the kill right because I know she's gonna come out at the kill she doesn't see me but she's coming right at me so then you get shots like this boom and you get that reflection in the water it's just fantastic and she comes she blows right by your bum she goes by the dogs going on it's a line we're out of here so the dogs run away the Sun is setting the dogs are the holoband this line is coming to pick up food ten dogs really ticked off lying something take some food and she's sitting uh I tried on the lioness I'm the baddest cat the jungle and I'm gonna eat this food right here now now I'm thinking oh my god I'm right now listen this is almost as good as sex for me I'm watching this stuff and I'm thinking oh my god this is unbelievable what is happening here we've seen this dog make this kill we've seen a hyena come in and now a lion is coming and taking it not gonna get any better than this and all this on the line looks up it goes what I go no please I can't take any more it's a freaking leopard comes out on the back and this leopard comes walking in I got amazing antelope it's just one left but he smells he goes all yeah smells pretty good smells pretty girl but you know what I'm gonna love her that's gonna not gonna happen the Sun is now set it's become dark and then all of a sudden I hear the hyenas come in in the dark and they take it away from the lioness I'm like I'm on my eighth card of like 128 gigs and I'm going oh my god it's unbelievable and then all of a sudden happen right I'm looking at the heinous what's happening here what are these hyenas doing now no there's nothing else I've got all the Predators Jack I got a leopard lion hyena wild dogs what other line what crocodile comes out of the water and it comes and takes the food tonight is the hyenas trying to fight off the crocodile I got no chance crocodile takes the rest to crocodile goes back in the water single greatest night in the history of Africa hi again folks buy themselves a lot of those images aren't very dramatic at all the thing is how do we tell a story with our images how do we get people to care about what we're talking about with our images the passion that's in our images what we felt how do we get people to feel what we felt because unfortunately most people in the world will never be able to see that firsthand but we as photographers are the conduit to communicate that message to them we can just simple things folks we have a group of flamingos that breed down in Miami in Hialeah Park and you know I'll go down there because I know the owner of Hialeah Park and he lets me watch these flamingos and I'll be there when they're breathing in their hatching and I'll be there on that chicks hatching you can go back and you watch that moment when the chick hatches and it raises up and gets fluffy and you watch the moments as it's growing up it's hidden in and smothers back you document these images of getting some food and then it goes through that ugly stage you know everything goes to an ugly stage okay and then you see a girl and enter and get back with the group and you see sometimes if they need veterinary care if you have to take care of the animals you create those connections the things that happen with these animals it's so important because folks we are all connected we are all connected and everything we do you might live in a big city here in New York but you're connected to what's happening in the Arctic in the Antarctic in Africa and Asia all around the world we can help animals in so many ways this next story is one of my favorites as far as helping an animal goes this was a gorilla that we added to sue she had gone totally blind due to cataracts she was in her early 40s she'd come out on exhibit she couldn't interact with the rest of the gorillas at all she would stay and just stay at the wall and shut her and the rest of the grills go out every time she hears something you see her shut her she was in the little world by herself we had one of the top human eye surgeons in the world come to the zoo and agree to do surgery on her to remove her cataracts and install artificial human lenses because the gorilla eye is almost exactly like the human eye and there was her face with those horrible cataracts and here's this great surgeon just doing an incredible exam and then doing the actual surgery and this is the implant that he implanted into her eye here is her eye before the surgery here is the surgery and here's the moment after we implanted them in the the lens and arrived what we did was folks we can't put a right on exhibit if you guys have ever had any work done in your eyes you have your eyes dilated you know what they make you do they were those dark sunglasses right first three or four days to let your eyes custom back to the light the the pupils go back to normal well we can't tell the gorilla you know you got to keep the sunglasses on so what we do is we put her in a dark room for three days and then on the fourth day I was there with my camera when she would come out to see if the surgery was a success or whether she'd just go to the wall again and just hide she came out folks and I will remember this moment till the day I take my last breath she came out she picked up little things she didn't go to the wall she's picking up things she would look at little pebbles she picked up this little rock I want you to look at this next image folks because this next image to me speaks volumes this is a gorilla that had been in a dark world for three years she had not been able to see she picks up a little twig that she's holding in her her fingers look at her fingers this little twig look at her eyes look how she's looking at that twig and if you had to put a caption on this photograph it would be I can see I can see that's the power of an image that that image went around the world it was on the front page of the Miami Herald in full color and people felt good about helping an animal about giving this animal a chance to do something okay all right now I'm gonna finish my last story let's see what time is hawser I know I got 45 minutes and they said no there you go 45 minutes let's give you the axe here hold on okay well good well got plenty of time because this is the best door yet no this is a good story this is a good story The Lion King we've all heard the story about the Lion King but let me know they tell you our little story that happened at the zoo this is our big male and here's a beautiful female the big male had a brother they got along smashingly all their lives grew up to adult brothers got along smashingly all our lives and then we introduced the females you know the problem is females sometimes tend to make males stupid so as soon as that female went into her first estrus those males are not friends any longer she's mine no she's oh no she's mine and they don't say it like that it got into a serious tip when they first went out there so this is a sequence I shot off this whole scene this is it it's ten frames of second folks it's like you ever seen a seaman lion king when scar and Simba go out of the deer it's just so much like hmm so that's what this is boom boom it takes him down but me it's weekend I mean this app is so fast again I wouldn't be there going okay got it no I'm just just doing that the whole time because you know you get these images folks you gotta use your camera to its best ability that's why the equipment is there use it and you see the power you see the looks on their faces as they're taking them down man look at that they're not friends anymore man this is for the girl this is what girls make guys do okay and this is going at it and it's just incredible to see the power they're not playing man look at that look at that arm coming out look at the look in his eyes loo those canines there's sub Domino one you know he's in the bottom and then she comes along she's like yeah yeah take him get him get him get him she's look at him come on yeah yeah show me who's boss here it's funny she's naked I'm honest really fires and you're gonna boom boom oh my god and then finally finally he goes okay I give any little walks away as soon as yellow one walks away what happens the guy who one looks right at the girl her name was Asha he goes and his name was Jabbar Jabari Jabbar goes right up to her she goes how you doing and I suppose I'm doing okay so they kind of have a little roll in the hay and the next thing you know little quasi is born this is the first lion ever born at our zoo but unfortunately he was just only one in the litter which is very rare lions usually have anywhere from two to six in the litter and because he was the only one in a litter and this was her first baby he wasn't stimulating her enough Asha to produce milk she kind of dried up so we had to augment him but we didn't want to separate him from his mother without getting him back to his mother because he needed to be raised as a lion we don't want a hand raised animals we want animals to grow up the way they're supposed to be socialized as supposed to be so what we did was we actually got Asha to allow us to separate him so we could give him a little thing of milk every three hours so we were able to augment his food because she was not producing enough and she accepted him back which was great for us and you look at a picture right somebody went oh so cute right no he's a lion he's a nasty little lion okay and there's several times when we almost lost him he had all kinds of digestive failures I mean we really thought we were gonna lose him this was huge news when he was born we did a big press release at the zoo I mean news with all lion cubs little quasi Chladni is gonna be okay oh my god cause he's not doing so well cause he's gonna always he gonna die he's gonna finally we got him over the hump and it was time to introduce him out to the wild okay when I say the wild out to his habitat with his mother we introduced him out there with his mother and folks that was the most amazing day ever the crowds were 20 deep in front of the exhibit news cameras all over the place everybody watch this oh my god he's so cute even though he got on his mother's nerves every now and then it was just one of these things where he was so adorable and you saw this bond taking place everything this is the happiest story ever look at this cause he lives Mama's doing so well oh my god it was in every picture you couldn't take a bad picture these two it's just the moments where you just go oh my god this is amazing you sit there forever folks if you can't take a trip to Africa go to a good local zoo the Bronx Zoo they have so many great facilities here where you can practice this type of photography get these incredible moments with these animals are with them and you see a moment where you look at some like this you go oh my god this is unbelievable it was one of the most beautiful moments ever okay and everybody's saying it this is the happiest story ever right and then you know what happened his mother died all of a sudden she just died she had some congenital heart murmur and she died and it was awful because quazy was now alone and you'd hear him wailing for his mother well and I'm telling you folks I have been at the zoo this is my 40th year and it was one of the most painful things I've ever had to listen to to hear this cub wailing for his mother fortunately his mother's sister Josefa sister not sister sister Josefa had a litter of Cubs two months after Kwazii was born and because lions are social animals we thought maybe we could introduce Kwazii to cassia and she would accept them and adopt them and we tried it and it worked Kashif a– adopted Kwazii this was her four cubs and when we adopted when we put quasi in there with him quasi just took over causes it I'm the big brother here I'm gonna be in charge of everybody that's exactly what he did he would and he never left his mother's side after that he would be his mother's side the whole time even when the her real True Blood Cubs wanted to be with her no crossing no I'm mother I'm I'm in front and the Cubs were you know there were two months younger say they were much smaller than he was and he was always taking mom's attention it was incredible she was the best mom she just tolerated all of his antics biting her head there you know he would play with his siblings all the time he packed him around he teach them how to be a lion this whole thing was developing you saw this beautiful storyline happening of him playing and him just being the center of attention with all those little adopted brothers and sisters around him right so you had this beautiful scene of mom always quasi the closest one to his mother and the rest of the Cubs but we had one more huge challenge we had to introduce the male to the pride to make it a total pride the problem was the male that we were going to introduce to the pride was the father of the four Cubs but was not kwazii's father he's a big boy and for those of you don't know in the wild lions will kill offspring that are not theirs the objective is number one because that's all they kind of think about is once they kill the Cubs the mother goes into estrus again and she could be bred but also as an instinct to prevent someone else's gene from being the next generation his goal is for his genes to be in the next generation so we went through the process of putting him next to them in a holding area where he could see if you were great and we saw that he was being very affectionate through the great with his Cubs and he wasn't really paying any attention to quasi quasi was kind of staying away but he wasn't paying any attention wasn't showing any signs of aggression so we said okay you know we got to try this this has got to work if we can't put the whole pride together we're not doing the right thing we as zoos have to be committed to keep animals and their proper social structures we just can't keep animals isolated so we said if it doesn't work it doesn't work we have to try this so they came when we let Jabari out and the first thing he does is goes to her because hey baby I missed you and then he notices the Cubs he goes and it was raining we did it purposely when it was raining so that we had things to distract him okay and he goes hey what's this and she's looking at his dog you'd be nice you be nice and the Cubs look at him like what is this thing you can see their face and he got a little rough with him every now and then and then they would get you see they even his little Cubs had tempers like leave me alone okay he just wanted to smell them he was just ensuring that they were his he moved him around and stuff and he you know he you can see I'm a god they got scared and they got nasty with him but they never really bit at him or anything but quasi never gotten near him quasi always stayed next to his mother on the other side and I watched that that whole body language dynamics that was going on and then all of a sudden all the Cubs were there and he walked up or the Cubs and Kashif was behind her all of her Cubs and he walked up and looked at the body language here you see all the younger Cubs have their ears up looking down like hey that's dad how you doing dad but look at quazy ears straight back head in a very defensive position look at the way mom is looking at him because he's looking right at Kwazii like you're not mine and she's looking at him and I hate to sound so anthropomorphic but folks I've been working with animals over 40 years and I've watched them in the wild and human care for all those years and I can tell you you can look at an animal's behavior and learn things and photographs like this teach you things by looking at the little subtleties in their looks so he would walk away okay I get back again and then all of a sudden he made the mistake of separating from his mother and Jabari was waiting for that moment as you look at your body looking over that hill that's not a Jabari that wants to play with him that's a debarry that's coming to kill him and kawase doesn't know it and kwazii's walking here comes to Bari from around the tree and this is the moment right before I thought I was gonna be filming the death of Kwazii he's coming at him to kill him I can tell you that wholeheartedly this is not a play he's coming at him to kill him and quasi just screamed and ran as fast as he could write to the the tree that was right alongside where his mother was and as he screamed like that his mother turned around and went a to Bari and said I'll tell you if you touch him I'm not making this up folks it was a war like you've never heard in your life and Jabari just urinated all over himself and ran away and we watched for the rest of the day he just looked at Kwazii never did anything and the next morning we let him out again and the first thing the next morning it was amazing because because Shifa walked out with quasi right next to her and she looked at Jabari laying down and she stopped and quasi started walking towards Jabari and I'm thinking oh my god what's gonna happen here what is gonna happen here and folks you can't make this stuff up Jabari just opened his arms and brought him in it was an amazing thing and after he did dad it was amazing because then Kashif Akane and she wrapped herself around to Bari like thank you okay this is gonna work out for all of us I'm not making this I know this sounds so romanticizing stupid but folks don't be so self-centered to think that only humans can have emotions and have feelings don't be that self-centered okay we live in a world I can tell you animals have emotions animals have feelings animals love their offspring yes love their offspring okay and I saw this and you saw this whole thing with family got together to get this shot but this next image that I want to close out my presentation with was one of the most impactful images that I've ever taken in the wild in captivity in any situation that moment where you saw kawase almost get killed by Jabari and you saw Asifa chased Aparri away when he chased Tabari away Kwasi ran back under the trees and he's trembling like this and once cuz Shifu knew that Tabari was running away urinating on selfie was no longer a threat she looked over his shoulder and she saw quasi just shaking there and folks I wish I had taken a video of it because she just slowly started walking towards something what's happening here and he's shaking he's shaking she lowered her head she lifted her massive arm and she brought him in to her and she held them just like this as if to say don't worry I'll always take care of you these are the moments that define wild life these are the moments that define storytelling and these are the moments that only still photography can translate to people can get people to care folks remember we've not inherited this earth from our parents we're borrowing it from our children these animals provide Windows to us that we need to protect this wildlife this is something that we need to pass on we don't want our kids looking back at us as poor stewards of what we've done here we want to looking back at us as people that help protect something for them to see so I really very much appreciate the opportunity to speak to you all here today I cannot thank David enough for inviting me to speak I am not worthy being up here in front of some of the speakers you got so that's why they want to get me out of the way I thank you very much enjoy the rest of the conference [Applause] do I need an assistant you know I'm very fortunate I work with an incredible staff again I've been able to folks you know I pinched myself in the back all the time I'm gonna say this and I said it to the folks at night and I'm very proud to be an icon ambassador but quite frankly it's very difficult to take a bad picture in the places I get to be in the places I get to go if I had to give you a piece of advice with anything it's just patience it's patience and understanding you know don't try to follow an animal around I can't tell you how many times I've been to Africa and I've taken groups out there I just got back from Antarctica doing a thing out there and people always think they're missing something somewhere else if you just stay put and you wait you see what develops in front of you it's amazing if you start chasing animals you're not getting the right behaviors you're getting a response instead of a true behavior that's not what you want to do have patience nothing is more cathartic than being outdoors and starting to realize as photographers we're the best observers there are that's what makes me a great naturalist I think is that I've learned to observe and patient and learn to capture those behaviors and to be able to look at an image and learn what that behavior means animals they talk they communicate it's much more subtle than some of us for me example I'm not that subtle okay but animals do things very subtly and when you watch them closely you'll be amazed at how they speak to you yes in humans we DNA and somebody like Jerry Springer to determine the smell its scent in pheromones I mean they seem to there's something that they know that we don't know listen folks we give off pheromones all the time we've kind of polluted ourselves with perfumes and shampoos and all this other stuff but animals their senses or what they depend on for survival whether it be scents whether it be smells a sight whatever I mean listen give you a classic example I hope I'm not overstepping a little thing here but anyway ladies when you went to college if you went to college and you went to your room at college and you had your period on the first of the month and your roommate comes in and she has her period fifteen to the month within four months if you were rooming together you'll have your period within two or three days of each other why because your body gets off pheromones to each other I'm not picking it up so you synchronize your cycles animals do the same thing there's so many subtle things an animal do because they depend on it there are dogs folks that can smell cancer and people okay think about this think about what we have to learn from nature so yes when it comes to the DNA I believe that these animals consent smell their DNA smell their relationship to an animal when it's born what months do you recommend going to El Rosario Oh Rosario February middle February to the beginning of March the best and it's a great trip and it's not really expensive at all the people are so nice it's just an easy trip it's not like Africa Antarctica Australia it's boom it's right there Mexico City three-hour drive and the people are great and it doesn't have to be long two days you can spend two days there get everything yeah how do you ensure your safety when you're out filming wildlife like lions and hyenas you know that's one of the biggest misconceptions that people have is that animals are out to get you out to kill you okay here's my number one message to all of you you should never be afraid of any animal you should respect all animals if you properly respect Anatomy you should never be in a position to be hurt by one having said that of course I've come walking in Alaska and walked in front of a freaking grizzly bear crossing a path and like Oh God the worst thing you can do with any carnivore folks any carnivore is turn and run it's the worst thing you can do bears for instance I've come across several bears in a while fortunately never been a sow with Cubs where I would have been screwed but generally speaking two bears by itself as soon as I see a bear what I do I stand still I raised my mom's ago hey bear hey bear I mean I'm urinating on myself oh boy hey bear hey bear and every time that's happened the bear goes and runs away every time every time don't turn and run with things like lions and wild dogs I am in the vehicle folks and those animals out there have been acclimated you need to understand the rules you don't stand in the vehicle you don't break the outline of the vehicle for years and years and years these animals have been habituated to understand the vehicles are part of the landscape they ignore the vehicles if they're not ignoring the vehicles your drivers doing the wrong thing okay so you stay seated be patient you're not gonna have a threat I have had liens four or five hundred pounds walk where I could touch their backs right by them they don't even look up as a matter of fact I've had cheetahs use the vehicle as a blind they'll follow the vehicle and antelope on this side anyway they wait they wait and they come around and get the antelope using the vehicles about not even looking in at us ever if you have an animal staring at you in a vehicle you're moving too much you're making too much sound or your driver is not doing the right thing so in Africa you're in the vehicle you're safe you're on foot always be with a good guide I've been with guides on many occasions always with a rifle only had to fire the rifle once ever it was a charging elephant cow with a calf and he just fired it up in the air she stopped and turned around and I've had many of them charge and they never fire the rifle because they're not always just a bluff it's a bull is something like that and it should you just don't turn and run need to be with experience don't don't go out there thinking you're in Daktari or something like that and doing something crazy okay be with an experienced guide be quiet be patient the rewards will be plentiful I promise I know I'm out of time now so thank you very much again enjoy the optic conference