Last week Discovery’s Animal Planet channel launched the new Australian series Chris Humfrey’s Animal Instinct. Chris Humfrey is a zoologist who owns the licensed Wild Action Zoo in the Macedon Ranges in Victoria, which is also his home. As well as being the series’ front man, Humfrey plays a key role behind the scenes, co-producing and acting as after-hours camera operator.
Animal Instinct was made by the production company This Is The Best Day Of My Life, founded in late 2015 by television producer Aaron Smith and Humfrey.
Humfrey and his business partner have been filming the new series for Animal Planet for the past 12 months. Humfrey was approached initially by Smith with the idea to make the series, which he described to Mediaweek as “a warts-and-all diary of my life”.
The filmmakers have made the most of the menagerie that lives with Humfrey, which he weaves into each episode along with environmental and conservation messages that are important to him.
“I grew up with Harry Butler on the TV and I don’t think we have had a good conservation product for a long time in Australia. Our series is also family-friendly viewing where mum and dad can sit down with their kids on a Saturday night.”
When asked about comparisons with Steve Irwin, Humfrey said: “There are some similarities, and we both share a passion for wildlife. There are not enough passionate people these days.”
The production partners named the company after the positive attitude that Humfrey brings with him, calling each new day, “The best day of my life”. When asked if there were many days that didn’t qualify, Humfrey admitted: “We all have our gloomy grey days, but most days I stay pretty upbeat.”
Although most of the footage comes from the zoo, Humfrey gets to travel a little in the series. Trips in this first season include Queensland and South Australia.
“Nothing is set up in this show,” he observed, noting many people claim that, but he sounds genuine. “I can also spot a fake on wildlife shows. Everything we do is as we see it.”
There is just a small team working on the show, including Humfrey, Smith and their cameraman who is a specialist with drones. “The drone footage is out of this world,” Humfrey promised. They pushed the devices pretty hard, and we have even had an unconfirmed report they might have lost one into the sea!
When asked if they have plenty of ideas to continue into a second season, Humfrey said: “I have lots of exciting ideas…the sky is the limit.”
The 13-episode series premiered on Animal Planet on March 4 and is being screened in Australia and New Zealand. The international distributor is Parade Media.