You may know Forrest Galante from Discovery’s hit show NAKED AND AFRAID and Animal Planet’s EXTINCT OR ALIVE but before becoming a television star, the biologist had been working as a field tech for years and his rise to fame was purely coincidental. From Panama to the Galapagos, Forrest has visited some of the most remote places in the world through his shows. In one of his many expeditions for Extinct or Alive, he successfully rediscovered the Fernandina Tortoise, believed to be extinct since 1906.
In his new book Still Alive, fans will learn more about his journey and his passion for the Earth. In one hilarious excerpt, he shared why he decided to take part in Naked and Afraid.
“So, one day, I returned home from the Channel Islands, covered from head to toe in limestone dust from the western- most peak of Santa Cruz Island, and, without even cleaning up, plunked down on the couch next to Jessica, exhausted. She had the television on and flipped to a channel where an overweight guy and a prim lady were standing naked in the jungle. They were talking into the camera, explaining the different ways they were struggling to secure food, water, and shelter while stuck in a remote location…
We watched as the contestants moaned about having to perform basic survival skills, the kind of stuff that I did for fun. Jessica then ventured, “Maybe you should go on the show?” Maybe I should, I thought. I was burnt out from all my work as a field tech, and this seemed like a good chance for a break. After all, a holiday for me was usually some strenuous hiking trip with limited provisions anyway. So, I thought to myself, why not get paid to do it for a change?”
And just like that, Forrest made his way into the television world, which would later lead to the creation of his very own series, EXTINCT OR ALIVE.
“The sad fact was that no matter how hard I worked or how intensely I analyzed the data, the animals I was looking for weren’t right around the next corner. They were gone from the face of the earth. And even if they weren’t, the odds of me being able to find an animal that hadn’t been seen in ten or twenty or one hundred years within a window of two to four weeks were zero. This knowledge played in the back of my mind throughout the first season of EXTINCT OR ALIVE. If you gave me two weeks to find a great white shark in California, a place where we know they live all year long, I probably couldn’t do it. And that’s a common and very large animal.
I realized that my primary goal was to share my passion for conservation, so emphasizing only the success or failure of the search was counterproductive. Those camera talks were more than just a tool of television; they were my way of inviting viewers into the journey, into the jungle, the mountain, the reef, the cave, or wherever we happened to be searching. They were my way of sharing my wonder for wildlife—its diversity and adaptability, its form and function...if it was actually going to inspire kids to get into science, then the journey itself would need to be worth the price of admission. The destination—the resurrecting of an animal that the scientific community had, with great finality and for good reason, declared extinct—was almost too beautiful to think we’d ever get there. But then we did.”