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Amazing Wildlife

A San Diego Zoo Podcast

In partnership with iHeart Media, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is excited to share its new weekly podcast series, Amazing Wildlife! 

Amazing Wildlife provides you with a behind-the-scenes look inside the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, so you gain insights on rare species and explore the ongoing conservation efforts to save endangered wildlife, no matter how big or small. Join us as your hosts Rick Schwartz and Ebone Monet also transport you around the globe to highlight San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s collaborative efforts with local communities to drive positive change for the future of animals and plants. Through one-of-a-kind stories, you’ll hear what it takes to create a healthy next chapter for not only wildlife, but also for the people who share their habitats.

It's Easy to Listen

To listen to Amazing Wildlife, download the iHeartRadio App or go to Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

And you can participate in the podcast! If you have a question for Amazing Wildlife, you can record it and send your audio file to wildlife@iheartmedia.com for your chance to hear it on the show.

Your Hosts: Rick Schwartz and Ebone Monet

Rick and Ebone from Amazing Wildlife Podcast

Episode Descriptions

Join Rick and Ebone every week as they take you around the world to discover spectacular species. Each Friday in 2022, a new episode will debut!

Discover a Diversity of Wildlife

Episode 1 - Currently Live
Elephants: Who's Leading the Herd?
Description: For the very first episode, Amazing Wildlife explores the gender roles of African savanna elephants and their responsibilities in the herd, and demystifies the structure of the elephant trunk. Host Rick Schwartz explains how we can distinguish between an African forest elephant, an African savanna elephant, and an Asian elephant. Host Ebone Monet sits down with San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance President and CEO Paul Baribault to find out how the organization partners with the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary to save and protect orphaned elephants in Kenya.

Episode 2 - Currently Live
Polar Bears: Rulers of the Arctic
BBBBRRRRRR it's cold in here! In this episode, Amazing Wildlife analyzes the behaviors of the polar bear and explains the tools these creatures use to survive in the extreme weather conditions of the Arctic. Hosts Ebone and Rick discuss the parents' roles in raising cubs, how polar bears hunt for food, and the challenges of studying such a big animal. The hosts answer a question from a young listener about why polar bears are (or aren’t) white. 

Episode 3 - Currently Live
Koalas: Braving the Australian Bushfires
Some may think that koalas are “bears,” but that is not true! In this episode, Amazing Wildlife explains what species koalas are, and why they move slowly and often look sleepy. Host Rick Schwartz tells us how koalas break down and digest eucalyptus, a plant that is toxic to most animals. Host Ebone Monet chats with Dr. Kelli Leigh from Science for Wildlife in Australia to find out how koalas were saved during the Australian bushfires in the summer of 2020. You’ll learn how the San Diego Zoo takes care of koalas, and what you can do to help save our animal friends.

Episode 4 - Currently Live
Tigers: Exploring the Six Subspecies 
They are powerful, elusive, and disappearing. We’re talking about the mighty tiger! Hosts Rick and Ebone explore the many mythologies surrounding the tiger in different cultures, clear up common misconceptions about the white tiger, and explain the differences between the six subspecies. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance President and CEO Paul Baribault joins the show to discuss how the organization partners with SINTAS Indonesia for a first-of-its-kind long-term research and conservation project to reduce the number of human-tiger conflicts.

Episode 5 - Currently Live
Pacific Pocket Mouse: Little Creatures, Big Impact
In this episode, Amazing Wildlife looks at one of the smallest mammals in North America, the Pacific pocket mouse. Rick tells us how this animal got its name, their importance for our environment, and the threats they face in their native habitats. Ebone is joined by Dr. Debra Shier, who leads San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s Pacific pocket mouse conservation program. Dr. Shier details the process of researching the animal that has made a comeback after it was thought to be extinct!

Episode 6 - Currently Live
Komodo Dragon: The Deadly Bite 
Discover the real-life dragons of Komodo Island on this episode of Amazing Wildlife! Hosts Rick and Ebone uncover how this fascinating reptile got its name, the evolution of the species, and what makes their bite so deadly. The hosts respond to a young listener's question about the Komodo dragon's diet.

Episode 7 - Currently Live
Gorillas: Gentle Giants 
They are among our closest relatives in the Animal Kingdom. We’re exploring unique facts about these charismatic, intelligent forest dwellers…gorillas! Hosts Rick and Ebone examine the similarities between gorillas and humans, and reveal how gorillas are endangered—even though they have no natural predators. Biologist Dr. Bethan Morgan joins the show from Cameroon’s Ebo Forest, where a distinct sound led a San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance scientist to discover a group of gorillas previously unknown to science.

Episode 8 - Currently Live
‘Alalā: The Disappearance of the Hawaiian Crow 
They’re endemic to the Hawaiian Islands and found nowhere else in the world. We’re exploring how the introduction of cats, dogs, rats, and mongooses contributed to the population decline of a bird revered in Hawaiian culture—the ‘Alalā! President and CEO Paul Baribault joins the show as we learn about how San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and its partners are working to protect and breed this endangered bird so populations can fly through their home forests once again.

Episode 9 - Currently Live
Giraffes: Hello Up There! 
Today, we’re discussing the tallest land animals: giraffes! Hosts Rick and Ebone reveal interesting characteristics of the species, which can kill a lion with its kick—and we explore their unique features, such as hair-covered horns called ossicones. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance scientist Dr. Kirstie Ruppert joins the show to talk about her work with the Twiga Walinzi group to protect giraffes in Northern Kenya from being hunted and illegally trafficked.

Episode 10 - Currently Live
Penguins: Tuxedo-clad Seabirds 
They are black and white and loved all over. We’re talking about penguins! Hosts Ebone and Rick highlight the social dynamic of these flightless seabirds, and reveal how the San Diego Zoo is able to reflect the native habitat of African penguins, who live in a warm climate. Dr. David Roberts joins us from the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, also known as SANCCOB, who are first responders for coastal birds. Dr. Roberts explains what is necessary to save underweight and abandoned African penguin chicks, to help support the population of this endangered species. 

Episode 11 - Currently Live
Leopards: Solitary, Cryptic, and Out of Sight 
Who knew that leopards are attracted to perfume? Hosts Ebone and Rick talk to a San Diego Wildlife Alliance scientist, Dr. Nicholas Pilfold, about how a specific scent helped him photograph an elusive black leopard. Little is known about the population size or conservation status of African leopards, but Dr. Pilford gives details about the Uhifadhi wa Chui project that is trying to help change that. Uhifadhi wa Chui means “leopard conservation” in Kiswahili.

Episode 12 - Currently Live
Black Rhinos: Touting Their Horns 
This episode is dedicated to conservation efforts to save the black rhino, which is unfortunately critically endangered due mostly to international trade in rhino horn. Hosts Ebone and Rick address this problem, as well as how the size and strength of rhinos affects the way specialists at the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park care for them. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance President and CEO Paul Baribault is back to discuss working with the organization’s partners to help protect native populations of black rhinos and achieve population sustainability. 

Episode 13 - Currently Live
Black-footed Ferrets: Road to Recovery 
Once thought to be extinct, black-footed ferrets have another chance at survival! Hosts Rick and Ebone explore the reasons that the species is at risk, and the animal’s interesting journey on a road to recovery. Pete Gober from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gives us an inside look at the innovative science and technology responsible for these mammals making a comeback. And Dr. Oliver Ryder, director of conservation genetics at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, tells the story of Elizabeth Ann, the first cloned black-footed ferret, who recently celebrated her first birthday! 

Episode 14 - Currently Live
Thick-billed Parrots: A Colorful Conservation Saga 
We’re traveling to Mexico to explore the mystery of the thick-billed parrot! Hosts Rick and Ebone explain how this red and green bird, once found in several areas of the Southwest, is now reduced to an endangered population in the mountain forests of northwest Mexico. Later, Amazing Wildlife is joined by Dr. Nadine Lamberski, chief conservation and wildlife health officer at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, who describes the current conservation plan—using information about the thick-billed parrots’ migratory patterns to help improve their chances for survival in native habitats. 

Episode 15 - Currently Live
Naked Mole-rats: Think Pink 
This episode is dedicated to an animal who doesn’t need a fur coat, since it spends most of its life underground. Naked mole-rats are found in East Africa’s deserts—and while these special “beauties” might not win any pageants, they are fascinating! In this episode, hosts Rick and Ebone explore the naked mole-rat’s status in nature, unique behaviors, and social structure. We’ll also hear from a young listener who will help us dig up the most interesting facts about these pink, wrinkly rodents. 

Episode 16 - Currently Live
Bees: Busy Pollinators 
The more you know about bees, the more you can appreciate these unique insects, and how they provide us with much more than just honey! Hosts Rick and Ebone explore the many contributions of bees, and share some cool facts. These specialized insects are called pollinators—they gather nectar and pollen from flowers, and they play a very important role in ecosystems worldwide. 

Episode 17 - Currently Live
Burrowing Owls: Small Wonders 
When you think of owls, you may think of big birds that come out at night, often seen in trees. But in this episode, Amazing Wildlife looks at the tiny burrowing owl, which is active in the daytime and found on—or under—the ground. Hosts Rick and Ebone explore what makes these birds so unique, what’s behind their declining numbers, and their connection to prairie dogs and ground squirrels. Later, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s Colleen Wisinski shares how her team uses technology—such as trail cameras and GPS transmitters—in conservation of burrowing owls in Southern California. 

Episode 18 - Currently Live
Butterflies: Nature's Transformers 
Join hosts Rick and Ebone as Amazing Wildlife explores the colorful world of butterflies! Symbolic for transformation, their metamorphosis from egg to caterpillar to adult butterfly has fascinated people for centuries. In this episode, we’ll discover how butterflies help scientists measure the health of the planet. And Paige Howorth, the San Diego Zoo's director of invertebrate care and conservation, will explain why the Quino checkerspot butterfly, native to Southern California and Baja California, Mexico, might be hard to spot. 

Episode 19 - Currently Live
April Fools: Masters of Deception 
Amazing Wildlife’s April Fools episode takes a look at opossums that play dead, insects that look like plants, and other wildlife that might fool you. Their seemingly deceptive behaviors can help wildlife protect themselves from predators or sneak up on prey. Hosts Rick and Ebone unveil some of the surprising reasons behind the wild performances—plus, young explorers join the conversation. 

Episode 20 - Currently Live
African Forest Elephants: Elusive Pachyderms 
What is the difference between an African forest elephant and an African savanna elephant? This episode is dedicated to the most elusive of the three living elephant species. We’ll journey to Central Africa to learn about forest elephants in their native habitat. Hosts Rick and Ebone are joined by Dr. Ekwoge Abwe, manager of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Central Africa Program’s Ebo Forest Research Project, which encourages local communities to take pride in the forest’s unique biodiversity. 

Episode 21 - Currently Live
Gorillas: Great Apes and COVID-19 
Find out what happened when gorillas tested positive for COVID-19 in January 2021. Get a behind-the-scenes perspective on how wildlife health specialists at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park responded to the gorillas’ illness, and the steps they took to ensure every gorilla’s recovery. Hosts Rick and Ebone will hear from the director of veterinary services at the Safari Park, Dr. Lauren Howard, about their work, and the use of the first COVID-19 vaccine approved for animals. 

Episode 22 - Currently Live
Jaguar: A Big Cat That Swims 
It’s South America’s only native big cat, which you might find swimming in a river, climbing a tree, or trailing prey. In this episode hosts Rick and Ebone uncover fascinating facts about the sleek, powerful, and elusive jaguar. You’ll find out what separates the jaguar from other big cats, how jaguars manage to take down much larger animals without relying on speed, why jaguar numbers are declining, and how you can help with conservation efforts.  

Episode 23 - Currently Live
Giant River Otter: South America’s “River Wolf” 
Meet the longest member of the weasel family, and find out why the giant river otter is known as the “river wolf.” Hosts Rick and Ebone will discuss what separates this otter from all others, covering everything from this carnivorous species’ favorite meal to its aquatic adaptations. River otters are “team players” that live, hunt, and defend their territories in family groups. 

Episode 24 - Currently Live
Andean Bear: The Bear with Many Names 
This tree-loving bear is known for the light-colored fur around its eyes, in a pattern that looks like a pair of eyeglasses. In the South American countries where these bears are found, people refer to them as jukumari, ukumari, or ukuku. However, their most widely used name comes from the mountain range where they live. The Andean bear is the closest living relative of the extinct species of North American short-faced bear. Hosts Rick and Ebone explore how this remarkable bear has managed to survive.  

Episode 25 - Currently Live
Galápagos Pink Iguana: The Case of the Disappearing Young 
Let’s take a virtual trip to the Galápagos Islands. Near their highest peak lives a unique reptile. These large lizards were officially classified as their own species in 2009—but only 200 to 300 remain in their native habitat. Young pink iguanas face obstacles to survival that range from an active volcano to feral cats looking for their next meal. Join hosts Rick and Ebone to learn more about this critically endangered species, and how technology is helping to improve conservation strategies to save them. 

Episode 26 - Currently Live
The Bonobo: Humans’ Lovable Cousin 
Get ready to learn about an endangered great ape known for being kind to strangers, peaceful, and highly intelligent. Found only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bonobos have fascinated people for nearly 100 years. Bonobos are often compared to their closest relatives, humans and chimpanzees, and are known to express empathy for strangers. Hosts Rick and Ebone will explore their unique behaviors, which have been studied by researchers seeking clues about the natural history of people.


Coming Soon! Every Friday, a New Episode Is Released

Episode 27 
Orangutan: Everyone's Favorite Redhead
You might know them for their long arms and unique colored hair. We're talking about the tree-dwelling great apes of Southeast Asia—Orangutans! Hosts Rick and Ebone reveal how this species got its name, which is often mispronounced. Find out about how to tell the difference between the different types of orangutans, the unique closeness they have with their mothers, and how the rate of reproduction and deforestation are contributing to a lower orangutan population. Tanya Howard, senior wildlife care specialist with San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, joins Amazing Wildlife to discuss the primate’s unique characteristics, such as an affinity for alone time.

Episode 28 
Galápagos Tortoise: Island Elder
This show is dedicated to an animal that has the secret to longevity. The Galápagos tortoise has been known to live more than 100 years. This giant tortoise is one of the most well-known animals found on Ecuador's Galápagos Islands. The archipelago's biodiversity inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. Hosts Rick and Ebone discuss how the San Diego Zoo has one of the largest and oldest colonies of Galápagos tortoises in the world—with some of the tortoises first arriving in 1928. And a young listener will get a chance to have Rick answer questions about the giant tortoise.

Episode 29 
Southern White Rhino: Mud Lover
Amazing Wildlife examines a subspecies of the second-largest land mammal on the planet, the white rhinoceros. Hosts Rick and Ebone provide insights on how the southern white rhino marks its territory, its affinity for mud, and its complex social structure. The duo discusses the theory of how the white rhino got its name through miscommunication between languages, and shares current solutions for saving this species that is declining due to threats of poaching. Later, Rick answers questions from one of our young listeners!

Episode 30 
Northern White Rhino: A Race Against Time
After spotlighting the southern white rhino, Amazing Wildlife explores a functionally extinct subspecies, the northern white rhino. “Functionally extinct” means there is no chance for the current population, as it is, to naturally reproduce. Hosts Rick and Ebone detail what led to the northern white rhino’s critically endangered status and the factors that make it impossible for this rhino to mate and reproduce on its own. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance's Barbara Durant, director of reproductive sciences, and Marlys Houck, curator of the Frozen Zoo, join the show to discuss the reproduction technologies scientists are using to preserve and maintain northern white rhino genes to bring the subspecies back.

Episode 31 
Przewalski's Horse: Last of the Wild
Amazing Wildlife uncovers fascinating facts about the last living "wild" horse, the Przewalski's horse! Hosts Rick and Ebone explain how the closest living relative of the domestic horse got its unique name, and its recovery from once being considered extinct in nature. Later, we’re joined by San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s Barbara Durant, director of reproductive sciences, and Marlys Houck, curator of the Frozen Zoo, to hear about the first cloned Przewalski's horse, conservation efforts to save the species, and the process of reintroducing it into its natural habitat.

Episode 32 
Fiji Iguana: Camouflaged Cutie
What is the beautifully colored arboreal species found only on the Fiji Islands? We’re talking about the Fiji iguana! Hosts Rick and Ebone reveal what makes the Fiji banded iguana unique, how this lizard is perfectly shaded to camouflage with the forest, and what classifies a lizard to be an iguana. Kim Gray, curator of herpetology and ichthyology at the San Diego Zoo, makes an appearance to explain the Species Survival Plan (SSP) program and the threats that impact the Fiji banded iguana.