Questions I’m Frequently Asked
Below is a selection of questions I am frequently asked, but if you think you have a new and original question that should be included here please use the form on my contact page to send me a note.
Q. How did I get to where I am?
Needless to say if you’ve read my bio, I didn’t take the typical scientist route. I grew up a city-girl, was an NFL cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins and had never been camping when I set out on my first expedition! I majored in anthropology and then continued to get my Masters Degree and PhD in anthropology, with a heavy focus on primates. I spent many years doing research in Madagascar on the lemurs and was ‘discovered’ by National Geographic out in the field while they were doing a documentary on the fossa, the predator that eats my cute, little lemurs! After doing some filming for them on the series Explorer, I was asked to become a staff wildlife correspondent in which I would cover pertinent wildlife stories all over the world on Ultimate Explorer….. and the rest is history! Quite literally, as I am now doing History Channel’s Expedition Africa.
Q. What is your favorite animal?
Far too difficult to choose just ONE favorite animal because nature has so many amazing creatures with incredible adaptations! I love primates, elephants, giraffes, leopards, hissing roaches, snakes, birds, ocean dwellers…this is not helping is it?
Q. What are your least favorite animals?
Wasps, malarial mosquitoes and poachers of the human kind.
Q. What is your favorite place?
Again, this is a tough one because there is always something I love about every place I journey to. Usually my favorite is the last place I’ve been! Madagascar and Africa are extremely dear to me and make me feel like I belong, but I also love the wilds of South America, the mountains in Japan and the wildlife and parks we have here in our very own country.
Q. How many countries have you been to?
Too many to count! It would be easier to tell you where I haven’t been….Australia, China and the Arctic. Bu there’s still time.
Q. Have you ever been bitten or attacked in the wild?
I have been bitten by snakes, charged by elephants and gorillas, had my hair pulled by a lemur and scratched up by a young leopard. But the worst for me is being attacked by bees and wasps.
Q. You followed Stanley’s trip to meet Livingstone, one of the most famous expeditions in Africa . Why did you do it? Why now?
This was a terrific mission – an opportunity to experience what explorers of a historic time went through traveling through some of the most challenging terrains on earth – then and now. As explorers in the 21st century, we have an array of marvels like GPS and other high-tech support that we might use. As a result of all this technology, have we gone soft? Can we do what explorers in an earlier time could do? In EXPEDITION, we put ourselves to the test. Viewers should tune in to find out how well we did.
Q. How long did it take you?
We traveled nearly 1,000 miles in 30 days, a lot of it on foot, along the route that Stanley took in the 19th century.
Q. How was working with the other members? Who were they? What were they like?
My fellow explorers are all professionals with incredible experience in their respective fields. They are: Pasquale Scaturro, a seasoned navigator and explorer; Benedict Allen, a survivalist and adventurer; and Kevin Sites, a war correspondent and solo journalist. We were tasked with a major undertaking. We’re all Type-A, “leader” personalities. How do we choose one leader from amongst us?
Q. What is it like being the only woman on the team?
I guess I’m used to it by now because I am usually always the only woman on an expedition! The toughest part is finding privacy when you need to bathe, go to the ‘ladies room’ or change clothing….. and someone to talk with about the latest fashions!
Q. What was Mark Burnett like?
Mark Burnett is an amazing producer and he is very passionate about this project. Also it was great to work with his A-team of producers and the camera teams that were with us 24/7. I feel very lucky to have been able to participate, it has been an astonishing, life altering experience.
Q. What modes of transport did you use?
We traveled a lot on foot, encountering the most difficult historical challenges that Stanley faced, sometimes even slogging through water, through an array of African terrains ranging from swamps to mountain to barren desert, and more.
Q. What tools did you use?
We used compasses and basic maps from Stanley ‘s time.
Q. Were you armed?
For protection against wild animals we were accompanied by Massai warriors.
Q. Who helped you?
Before we started off we hired porters who helped us with our supplies, as was done in Stanley’s time. Our relationship with them grew very close over the course of the expedition. Also as mentioned we were accompanied by two Masai who helped keep us safe.
Q. Can you describe some of the encounters you had?
I can’t reveal details of what took place but what I can tell you is this: we ultimately encountered the same dangers faced by Stanley - sickness, life-threatening diseases, and injuries as well as internal conflicts within our group. We did not come out of it unscathed.
Q. Stanley leaves a pretty miserable legacy in the Congo ? Is this addressed in the show?
Stanley did leave a miserable legacy in the Congo . But the events in the Congo took place well after Stanley ‘s mission to find Livingstone, so it’s beyond the scope of the series. However we do discuss Stanley ‘s mistreatment of his porters on this expedition.
Q. What did you learn about Stanley and Stanley ‘s Africa ? What did you learn about modern Africa ?
The Africa of Stanley’s time lives on in many respects today; though of course towns have sprung up in some areas that were unsettled and completely wild then. Still, we were able to immerse ourselves to an amazing extent. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. It was a remarkable, personally challenging adventure.
Q. How do you go on these expeditions whilst you’re a mom?
Balance in life is very important and I feel very fortunate to have it all. I have a wonderful husband, two beautiful daughters and a career in exploration and research. Being an explorer is not a career choice for me, it is who I am. I want my girls to grow up knowing that mom is doing what she loves and is still always there for them. It actually makes me a better mom. My oldest daughter went on her first expedition to Madagascar with me when she was only 9 months old. Most of the time though I take pictures of them with me and keep in mind that I am doing it for them. I want to leave my children a better planet, and do what I can to protect all of its wonderful places and animals for them to grow to love too.