In a corridor of the conference hotel, we encountered a man with a half-grown mountain lion on his shoulders. It slithered up and down his arms like a viscous liquid.
The lion was no pet — we quickly discovered that its owner was promoting a captive-wildlife photography operation.
I learned a few things in my five years of OWAA membership, and one was that almost no one gets spectacular photos of predators in the wild. That lynx "chasing a snowshoe hare"? It's probably chasing a rubber ball thrown by its trainer.
And here I used to think that the photographer sat out in the snow. telephoto lens in hand, blowing a "rabbit distress" call. I honestly thought that was how it was done, but very few photogs do that. (Some do use game camera photos, since the quality has improved so much in recent years.)
Of course, movies and TV shows are no exception, not to mention magazines and wildlife calendars. Most of what you see is faked.
Inspired by Disney were Marlin Perkins, host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom (premiering in 1963), and Marty Stouffer, host of the Public Broadcasting Service’s Wild America (premiering in 1982). Like Disney they were pioneers working in a standards vacuum, but they set a new bar for nature fakery. Perkins was forever having his young assistants lasso and wrestle terrified tame animals to “rescue” them. “They were totally ruthless,” Wyoming cinematographer Wolfgang Bayer told the Denver Post. “They would throw a mountain lion into a river and film it going over a waterfall.”Wild Kingdom still airs on Animal Planet.That's from an Audubon article, "Phony Wildlife Photography Gives a Warped View of Nature." Read it, and you might learn when you too were fooled.