Animal Picture BiographyAs the face of Nat Geo Wild in Australia and New Zealand, Ben Britton gets closer to creatures great and small every day for a living.
Currently featuring in a series of locally produced vignettes alongside IJ the capuchin monkey, Bailey the Albino Burmese python and Jackson the alligator, Britton deciphers the mysteries of animal behaviour for viewers.
Passionate about wildlife, Britton believes strongly in conservation through education. He has appeared in a number of documentaries and on various television programs throughout his 20 years of professional experience in animal husbandry and wildlife conservation that have taken him across the world, from reserves in Africa to sanctuaries in Asia.
In addition to his on-air role, Britton is the Director of Wild Animal Encounters, an outreach program providing educational talks, displays and demonstrations of both native and exotic animals to the general public.
Previously Ben worked as a zookeeper in some of the leading zoological institutions both in Australia and overseas, including Sydney's Taronga Zoo and the Australian Reptile Park. During which time he gained valuable experience working with a wide variety of animal species from Elephants to Echidnas, and everything in between.
With his easy-going affability, Britton is well versed in communicating wildlife conservation messages in entertaining ways through the media. He featured as the resident wildlife expert on Mornings with Kerri-Anne for three years and has appeared on numerous free-to-air and subscription television programs including Sunrise, Sydney Weekender, The Big Arvo, Saturday Disney, Make Me a Supermodel, The Today Show, Animal Hospital, Burke’s Backyard, A Current Affair, Totally Wild and Australia’s Next Top Model.
Britton can currently be seen on Nat Geo Wild, channel 616.
Despite the urban legend about albino alligators, there is no evidence to suggest that these fair-skinned animals live in the sewer system beneath the island of Manhattan. However, they are occasionally found in the wild. Albinism is a condition caused by a lack of pigmentation in the skin and hair, giving a person or animal a whitish appearance. When it occurs in alligators, animals whose fitness depends on blending into the green/brown environment, it threatens their very survival. After all, a ghost-white baby alligator is extremely vulnerable to predation and its coloration would make it a lousy hunter. Fortunately, albino alligators found in the wild are usually collected and brought to zoos, aquariums or farms that have facilities to care for them.
Having two faces is a difficult look to pull off, even for a kitten. Still, when double-faced cats are born, they tend to garner a good bit of publicity. There is something about this particular freak of nature that really pulls at the heart strings of curious onlookers. Though rare, two-faced cats do occasionally occur. A double-faced kitty born in Ohio in August 2008 had two noses, two sets of eyes and two mouths, which meowed in unison. A similar two-faced kitten was born in Perth, Australia, in November 2008, but lived for just a couple of days.
When life deals you a hand that includes a conjoined twin, there's nothing left to do but make the most of it. And that's just what No. 8 in our countdown has done. The Nile tilapia is a freshwater fish native to Africa but sold for food in nearly all parts of the world. However, this particular fish - or pair of fish - is unlikely to make it to market anytime soon. These conjoined twins live in a Bangkok aquarium, where they have worked out a mutually beneficial living arrangement. The larger fish remains upright and protects its little sibling, which spends its time searching the floor of the tank for food. Good teamwork, twins!
When researchers at Italy's Center of Natural Sciences in Prato first laid eyes on the small roe deer with a single horn protruding from the middle of its head, the animal's nickname was a no-brainer. They would call him "unicorn." But less clear was the explanation for the young deer's centrally located single horn. Was it caused by a genetic mutation or possibly an injury sustained early in life? Or, could this be proof of the existence of those mythical creatures known as unicorns? Most likely the former, but it was probably fun to speculate. Such anomalies may occur with some regularity in mammals, which might account for the persistence of the unicorn myth through the ages.
The elusive squid is known for having a squishy body, long slender tentacles and a rather feisty disposition. But it is not known for having elbows. A dive team working for an oil company in the Gulf of Mexico in 2007 was shocked when they caught a glimpse of this bent-limbed beast. Using a remote-controlled underwater camera at a drilling site about a mile and a half below the surface of the water, they filmed several seconds of this large squid. Focusing the camera on the animal revealed that its long legs and tentacles jutted out from its body and then trailed down from the appendages at sharp right angles. In other words, the squid had elbows.