Dave Salmoni is a Canadian animal trainer, entertainer and television producer. He has his own production company, Triosphere, which is based in South Africa and specializes in wildlife films.
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Hi. I’m Dave Salmoni, wildlife expert and Animal Planet personality. I just finished kicking off an education program, in partnership with Bearitos, at an elementary school in Brooklyn, NY to educate kids on the importance of preserving natural habitats. I’m traveling with a few of my animal friends right now in a car so thanks to Victoria for helping me respond to your questions.
Say hello to these guys:
For more info, check out Bearitos Facebook page:
I wanted to thank everyone for their time today. I’m passionate about protecting animals and their habitats and helping others learn about animal preservation education at any age.
Victoria's helping me out via phone, AMA.
Update: Well, I'd love for you all to visit the Bearitos page to learn more about creating your own educational habitats. Thanks for your questions! And I hope to do this again sometime.
This is the most intelligent response to this question that I have ever seen. Thanks!
That's good! Hopefully a few of my brain cells are still going. We have to deal with all our animal's problems as intelligently as we can, otherwise we get bit.
With you being a Bears fan, how hard is it for you to watch this year? Considering they are absolutely awful and possibly the worst team in football.
I cry almost every sunday.
I have two kids 5 and 3 and we are all very passionate about learning and caring for animals. My kids heroes are you, wild kratz, and Steve Irwin. We visit zoos, read, and are part of citizen science groups for frog counts ect. I am looking for more ways to inspire my children to continue their love for animals and maybe one day choose a career in conservation. What are some people, events, or what inspired you into a career in conservation? Any suggestions for my kids? Thank you for all your work and efforts in educating our young people.
I think a really fun thing for the kids to do, right now, is go on Bearito's Facebook page. We've been involved, since November 10, to build these habitats - and I spent the whole day with kids TODAY, and they are so excited about it! They got to understand ecosystems and preservation through building these things, and having arts & crafts. I went to 9 classes today and they were all so excited! So this would be something you could do TODAY to encourage your kids.
But on top of that, I always tell people to get outdoors. It seems obvious, but the more time you spend outdoors, the more you'll get a bond to it. I grew up bonded to the camping places I would go to - my parents made it fun, to go out camping or being at the cottage - so when I was choosing a career path, I wanted to choose being outside, so that's how it unfolded.
Obviously, YouTube is a fantastic resource in terms of figuring out what your favorite animal is - jumping on the google train - we've found the best way to get kids interested in animals is exposing them to it. So any museum, any zoo, showing them animal programming - the best way to help raise kids to grow into adults who love animals is to expose them to all these different animals and habitats as they are growing up. And it's that exposure that creates the bond between humans and animals. And once they have that bond, they'll have the passion.
Since you're an expert, who would win in a fight, 100 duck-sized horses or 1 horse-sized duck?
My expectation is always the bigger animal wins, no matter the animal.
Horses don't like to fight in groups, neither do ducks. So the bigger animal always will win.
Chimpanzees are one of the best group fighters. Lions do the same. They're good at group fighting. But the rest of them don't do so well.
Scuba diving question - where is your absolute favorite place to scuba dive and why?
My very favorite place to scuba dive is Fakarava. It is one of my favorite places in the world. If you go at the right time, you will be shoulder-to-shoulder with 600 sharks that are relaxed and calm.
If you get the opportunity to see a show called DEADLY ISLAND, that I host, it comes out probably in the springtime on Animal Planet, watch for an episode called SHARK ISLAND because that was where I found this place, And it was the most incredible place to dive ever.
There's another place that's close to that island called Rangaroa. And the two of these places - if you're going to do one, you might as well do both.
Who's your favorite superhero?
Oh that's a good question! Favorite would have to be... either Thor or The Hulk.
Hey Dave! What is favorite animal fact for each animal you have in the car with you?
Ooh, that's a good question!
Alligator: my favorite fact with the alligator would be... I like the fact they can lay underwater and only expose their nostrils and eyeballs. So you could literally have 2-3 inches of animal above water, and 1000 pounds under the water.
Leopard: can lift up 5 times their own body weight into a tree.
Beaver: Favorite thing about beavers is, looking at a beaver dam, depending on how thick the mud is, you can tell how harsh the winter will be.
Binturong: My favorite thing is if you smell them, they smell like popcorn. It's unbelievable. That they smell JUST like popcorn.
Eagle Owl: I just like the way they hunt. They're cool little hunters.
Ruffed Lemur: My favorite thing about lemurs is that they do something called "stink fighting" where they rub stinky parts of their glands on each other when they're fighting.
In all honesty it does sound pretty awesome if 'the Jurassic Park' happens. Scary albeit that science can recreate something from millions of years in the past. Thanks for the answer.
Do you know if your going to be on Animal Planet USA again?
Yes, I am. I have a special coming out in early December, so stay tuned. And I have a series coming out - we think in Spring of next year. That's when DEADLY ISLAND is going to hit Animal Planet US!
Hey Dave, I've been a big fan since your Animal face-off days. On to my question, what chance do you think the Florida Panther has on recovering its population? Thanks in advance and have a lovely day.
I think the chances of it recovering to a full population is zero. I think we will repopulate Florida - but they used to be over the ENTIRE state. So zero chance they will regain their full numbers, but in areas where they have a protected habitat, I think they will have a good chance. I think that in the 1970s, the reason we were worried and thought of them as vermin was because we thought they were dangerous. Now we're learning they are not that dangerous to people most of the time. There is the odd time, but it's rare. So now that we understand them better, we can manage our habitat for them a little bit better. There are a lot of protected spaces in Florida I think they will do very well in.
How important do you think mitagating climate change is when it comes to preserving wildlife?
I think globally it's the most important thing - to mitigate our effect on the planet. Because it's having the largest impact on habitats currently. We've been talking all week about habitat preservation - bears are a great indicator. Look at polar bears - we are seeing all their hunting territory get wiped away, because their habitat is melting away. This is what's to come. So I think we as a global conservation community - that's the thing we ALL need to work on. And individually, within our own countries or areas, we need to be more specific on what's destroying our particular habitat.
You obviously set goals for yourself and go for them - what is the next big goal on your list?
That's a good question.
Typically, I have these weird passionate projects that just pop up in my head, and then I read about it, and do more research, and if it seems viable, I will then reach out to a network and say "Hey, let's get to work!"
So I have a few little ideas - I want to swim with a killer whale, I want to hang out with polar bears, there are a few elephant things I'm interested in doing, I'm getting ready to launch my nonprofit, helping people who live around animals deal with the conflicts between animals & people -and out of all these ideas, one of them will just pop up, and then I will devote all my energy to JUST that project.
How do you feel about echidnas?
I think they're cool! They're sharp and pointy and they lay eggs. What's not to like?
(crosses fingers) upvoting Killer Whale, then Polar Bears.
OH! Because more than likely, the polar bears are more aggressive than killer whales. Killer whales have never hurt people in the wild before, whereas polar bears sure have.
whats the worst and whats the best part of your job?
I would say... the BEST part of my job is the animal interaction! I got into this work to have 1-on-1 interactions and relationships with animals, and that's the part that makes me most excited. The worst part would be the fact that I'm in the forefront of when animal lovers all combine and argue about the same thing - I think the biggest problem in conservation & animal rights right now is the fact that a whole bunch of animal lovers, instead of coming together to solve problems, argue with each other and I try to mitigate and manage that. So I find that to be the worst part of my job.
If I seriously wanted to get into your field of work, what would be the best place to start?
I would say start with a degree. Get an animal behavior / zoology type degree as a place to start. Next would be figuring out what species you'd like to work with, and getting some experience working with that animal - whether in a research role or a hand's on role. Experience is key in this field.
what is your favorite anima to wor kw th?
My favorite depends on my mood. So sometimes - you wake up and you're in a lazy mood, so you want a lazy animal, or sometimes you're fun and playful, so you want a fun and playful animal.
One day it's an elephant, one day it's a lion, one day it's a shark - it all depends. Because you get to work with so many, so it's hard to choose just one!
It'll bounce between big cats, sometimes elephants, sometimes sharks, bears are also a big one for me. Today it's the baby leopard cub for sure. She's so cute. Absolutely.
1.Which was the most intense experience that you lived in the wild?
2. Would you like someday come in Romania to study brown bears?
3. When something goes wrong what are you doing to not give up?(especially when you are away on an expedition)
4. Can you describe a day in your life please?
5. Have you ever thought to marry?
1) Most intense experience? Any life-threatening situation is just as intense. There have been several times over the past few years where I've faced getting attacked. Most recently, I had a silver-tipped shark try to bite the back of my head, and I also shortly after that had a bear try and get in my tent one night, a big grizzly bear. But the most intense is too difficult, because in a life or death situation, they all feel very intense.
2) I would LOVE to go to Romania and study brown bears!
3) I would say... typically I don't really have much "give up" in my personality type. I just hate the thought of it, I hate the idea of having to give up on anything. And typically, I'm doing something I'm passionate about. I love what I do, I'm passionate about what I'm doing, so when things get tough, I tend towards finding a solution rather than saying I give up, I'm leaving.
4) Well, at home, m y life is very relaxed. I wake up, eat, go to the gym, go home, do some work, figure out what my next project is going to be, if I'm lucky go back to the gym, eat again, and then go to sleep so I can get up and do it again. In the bush, it's very different - wake up before the sun, start a fire because I HAVE to boil some water for a coffee, and then usually at that point we'll make a plan as to what we're going to do in the day, start to try to find the animal we'll be working with that day, then we try to find the animal, work with that animal, and then try to be home in camp before sunset - cook the meal over a fire and then straight to bed.
5) I was recently engaged two weeks ago! :)
Hi Dave, big fan,
What is the likelihood of Jurassic Park actually happening?
I think we are getting closer every day to being able to create things like saber-toothed tigers, wooly mammoths, because mammals are easier currently with the science that we have, I don't think we are that far off from being able to do a Jurassic Park type thing if we wanted to. Genetically, we are learning more every day.
Would you mind elaborating on the binturong? I've heard of everyone else in the animal friends gang, but I will confess I have no idea what a binturong is.
So, they are commonly known as a "bearcat," but they are neither a bear nor a cat. They get their name because they have whiskers like a cat, a big head like a bear, they are very fuzzy, so they can be quite vicious when they get big, but typically, this one that i have, is very pleasant. We basically only handle animals that like to be handled, that like human companionship, so you hold them like you would hold any other sort of big dog. Because he's a tree climber, he holds onto you, so the nails dig into you a little bit eventually.
They're from Southeast Asia.
Hi, I've seen you in interviews and you're obviously super passionate about animals (which is cool as hell, I love animals but am scared of anything that isn't a mammal or bird.)
Stupid question, but do you think your name has anything to do with you being so involved with animals? I mean, it has salmon in it, that's an animal... right? I mean like, maybe one day you were thinking of what you wanted to do when you grew up, then you wrote your name down and you saw salmon and it just clicked.
Maybe I need to sleep. Thanks for doing this by the way, keep up the great work!
Well, um, I don't know if it has anything to do with my name? But it was something I was born with - maybe there was some Salmoni back then who loved Salmon, I don't know. I grew up with a love of animals because i was a kid who didn't like rules very much, and with animals, you just have to have trust and respect to be safe, and I could get my mind around that as a kid.
What is your advise for aspiring zoologists, also for cryptozoologists?
Study hard! Zoology is what i consider to be "the thankless science" - we are constantly researching things the rest of the world thinks they know. To be a good zoologist, you have to understand everything from calculus to geography - unfortunately, zoology is one of those subjects that requires you to know a little bit about everything. So my advice is study a LOT, and that you love it, because it's oftentimes quite thankless - your zoology degree is something you aspire to get, and live with a science research background and job path. I'm very lucky to have the opportunities I've had.
You know, I know a lot of guys who are living in that space right now, because TV is full of them and i bump into them with my tv background? For Cryptozoology, you have to be VERY confident with yourself, because 99% of the time you will be mocked, or looked at as possibly crazy. So you have to be pretty confident, pretty secure, and passionate about what you're doing.
does Chelsea Handler have a favorite animal?
You'll have to ask her! I have no idea. Probably one of her dogs.
When you were in high school or middle school did other kids ever call you David Salami?
All the time. And if you're canadian, and you know what a Zamboni is? So Salami or Zamboni, those were the worst.
But if you remember the Billy Idol song "Mony Mony?" I love that song, and they called me that - not a bad nickname when you're 14.
How exactly do you get introduced and get a foot hold in this field?
Well, I was a zoologist and an animal trainer. And then I was given an opportunity to do a tiger conservation program where I was going to be the first person to train captive-bred tigers to hunt and to fend for themselves in the wild. And I was able to use my degree & animal training background to be successful in that that. And with that success came my first TV show. And it all just became what i did after that. So then I introduced myself into a pride of wild lions - I realized that TV was willing to pay for all these weird passion projects that i had, as long as I was willing to let someone else film me while I was doing them!
So now i'm a 39 year old child that gets to go out and play with animals when I feel like it. Or hang out with kids during my Bearitos days when I get to check out the bear dens they all made - it's called a "give a bear a home" program where they encourage kids to make habitats and then they can win grants & things for education. I get to spend the day with kids and it's really interesting to see what kids think a bear needs to live! So it's been a fun day for me today.
Is it true whales can mimic human speech?
No, they can't.
Are there any animals that you would like to work with that you haven't worked with yet?
There are LOTS. I mean, there's probably not an animal on the planet I wouldn't LIKE to work with, and there are lots that i haven't. I've done some polar bear stuff but i want to do more. I want to hang out with Humpbacks, Killer Whales, there's a lot of animals i would love to hang out and spend more time with.
Been debating this question awhile - maybe you can help.
Turtles have shells because they provide protection. How did the soft-shell turtle evolve to have a soft-shell? What advantage does this give them?
My best guess is predators being absent in their environment where hard-shelled turtles typically are, so they don't need the added protection.
I've tried finding this online and asked keepers at my local zoo but with no luck.
Thank you for your help if you can! :)
WELL, it actually isn't that complicated of an answer.
What we know about soft-shelled turtles are that they are the deep divers, typically. So as you get deeper, there is more pressure on your shell - so the ones that are less rigid have less opportunity to be broken. If you were a very ridged turtle, the pressure would just break your shell - whereas these guys can go much much deeper and have more access to a variety of food because they can handle the pressure.
And for freshwater- the evolution of it's come from seawater to freshwater, but I would say typically when you see that, it could more of their habits in how they decide to forage or even in the more northern areas, how they decide to bury themselves.