TV guide: TV’s modern-day Tarzan

2010-09-25 08:40

In another time,

another place, Dave Salmoni would have been Tarzan.

He appeared on Jay Leno Show,Oprah and The Tyra Banks Show in a

loin cloth, but this predator expert is much more than just a rock-hard


But how does a Canadian-born son of an engineer and a figure

skating coach end up in South Africa’s wildest regions as a host on Animal


“Growing up as a kid, there were posters of lions and tigers

hanging on my wall instead of pop stars. I was never interested in

people, ­always in animals,” Salmoni says.

After leaving high school, Salmoni

enrolled at varsity to study zoology, where he graduated at the top of

his class. He then went into animal training, but confesses to have

“fallen out of love with the industry”.

He has been living in South Africa

on and off for 10 years.

Unlike other shows on Animal

Planet, Salmoni takes it one step ­further and goes into the animal’s

terrain in his own way to understand the animal better.

“Preparing for

an encounter with an animal takes months of research. It’s not about

reading books; it’s about speaking to locals and spending time with

experts who have the same thinking pattern as you.

“I also

physically prepare for the encounter by spending time in the gym and

being healthy. When you’re dealing with massive animals, ­physique also

plays a role.”

Salmoni recently appeared in a photo shoot in Flaunt magazine,

styled by Tom Ford. But his ­relationship with his ex-girlfriend, TV

talk show host Chelsea Handler, is what got America talking.

Perhaps it is

his unique take on what constitutes balance in life that contributed to

the couple’s split.

“My idea of living a balanced life is different to

people who work 9-to-5 jobs. I have really tight bonds with people I

love, so they understand that when I am shooting in South ­Africa for

nine months, that is just my job.”

who has been

described as “controversial” for his style of shooting shows, is not

fazed by the attacks which has seen him facing the white light on many

occasions. In 1998 he was mauled by a lion which left him with a broken

rib cage and forearm ripped out. While shooting in the Amazon,

he was bitten by a flesh-eating squid, but that didn’t deter him.

“My curiosity

pushes me all the time, whether I am being bitten or mauled. The

curiosity and passion keep me coming back.”Being

attacked just means there is a question in the animal’s behaviour which I

need to understand and answer.”

  • Catch Into the Lion’s Den and Into the

    Wild weeknights ­on Animal Planet at 8.30pm.

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