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September 29, 2013: Photographing Every Animal in Captivity, Saving Apes from Guerillas, and More

National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore is building Photo Ark, capturing images of each of the 12,000 species in captivity. He hopes his activism can inspire humans to protect the animals. (photo by Joel Sartore)
National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore is building Photo Ark, capturing images of each of the 12,000 animal species in zoos. He hopes his activism can inspire humans to protect the animals, rather than a log of what we’ve lost. (photo by Joel Sartore)

Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend.

Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend on radio, or listen below!

Hour 1

Driving 151.3 miles in a car often takes approximately two and a half hours, depending on traffic and speed limits. But for Brandon Nelson‘s most recent 151.3-mile trip, it took exactly 24 hours. He paddled around Lake Padden, near Bellingham, Washington 87 times in the allotted window, setting a new world record for the event. Nelson fell off his kayak three times in the process, and tells Boyd that his body didn’t feel pain, but it began to break down toward the end of the 24-hour window, landing him in the hospital afterwards. 

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In the story of Noah’s Ark, the Biblical figure collected two of each species of animal so he could repopulate the world following the great flood. National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore has photographed approximately 3,000 of the world’s 10 to 12,000 species in captivity, in hopes of raising awareness for the endangered species. And since not everybody can be a full-time, world-traveling conservation photographer like Joel, he’s encouraging the public to participate in National Geographic’s Great Nature Project and document the plants and animals near them.

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Sustainable cuisine transcends the local food trends that dot the dining scenes across the United States. National Geographic Fellow Barton Seaver is using his new platform at the Center For Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School to awaken future doctors and leaders to the idea that we can be no healthier than the environment in which we live.

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With many well-documented years of reluctant reproducing in captivity, pandas have earned something of a reputation. But New Yorker reporter David Owen wonders if it is entirely justified. Through research for his article “Bears Do It” he shares the reproductive difficulties of one panda pair at the Smithsonian National Zoo, but points out that other couples breed with a fair amount of success.

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While most high school students spend the summer at low-paying part-time jobs, Eric Chen spent his developing a new way to identify flu-strains and create flu-fighting drugs. His efforts won him grand prize at the 2013 Google Science Fair.

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Hour 2

Anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer in Residence Johan Reinhard recently visited Nepal for the first time in 45 years. Such a long absence and lack of contact might have rendered both Johan and the hunter-gatherer tribe he had been with practically unrecognizable to each other; but happily, the indigenous group remained intact, with its numbers stable over the last half-century. They remembered Johan’s time with them, rekindling friendship over the retelling of funny stories from 1968.

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Art is often considered to be an esoteric pursuit, in which the rich appreciate beauty for the sake of beauty. But residents of Democratic Republic of the Congo’s capital city, Kinshasa, prove that artistic appreciation isn’t just for the wealthy. Robert Draper visited the city and documented its fashionistas, musicians, and painters in the article “Kinshasa, Urban Pulse of the Congo” for the September, 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine.

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Charles Tumwesigye of the Ugandan Wildlife Authority is the 2013 recipient of the National Geographic/Buffett Award for Leadership in Conservation. When chaos poured into Uganda’s national parks from neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, Charles took in park rangers from DRC and negotiated with rebels, ultimately helping to save their resident mountain gorilla populations from becoming conflict casualties.

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Just because water isn’t immediately apparent in an arid environment, it doesn’t mean it’s not there, ready to sustain life. Still, it can be hard for poor farmers, particularly in areas like Sub-Saharan Africa and Bangladesh, to reach it just a few feet below the surface. National Geographic Freshwater Fellow Sandra Postel writes about a few cheap solutions to this problem that are increasingly able to transform the fortunes of the world’s $1-per-day farmers.

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In this Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd shares a story from a recent trip to Croatia, exploring Dubrovnik and the beautiful beaches, but says that the beaches’ natural beauty definitely outshines the locals’ naturist beauty.

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