Birder From Infamous Central Park Incident Gets His Own Show About Birds
Christian Cooper made headlines in 2020 for being wrongfully accused. Now he'll host The Extraordinary Birder to "spread the gospel of birding."
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Christian Cooper might have stayed a fairly anonymous former Marvel Comics editor and birdwatcher if not for one highly publicized event in New York's Central Park in 2020. When Cooper, who is Black, asked a white woman named Amy Cooper (no relation) to leash her dog in an area where leashing is required, she ended up calling 911 and reporting that "an African American man" was threatening her. His video went viral, and Amy Cooper lost her job and surrendered her dog.
Now Christian Cooper will be hosting a birdwatching show for National Geographic TV, called The Extraordinary Birder.
"Lifelong birder Christian Cooper will take us into the wild, wonderful and unpredictable world of birds in his new show, The Extraordinary Birder," the network said in a tweet.
"Whether braving stormy seas in Alaska for puffins, trekking into rainforests in Puerto Rico for parrots, or scaling a bridge in Manhattan for a peregrine falcon, [Cooper] does whatever it takes to learn about these extraordinary feathered creatures and show us the remarkable world in the sky above," the network said in a statement.
No premiere date was announced for Extraordinary Birder. According to The New York Times, the show will air on one of National Geographic's channels or on Disney Plus. There are six planned episodes.
Cooper told the Times that he was "all in" when he first heard about the possibility of a show.
"I love spreading the gospel of birding," he told the paper. He also said he hopes the show will encourage viewers "to stop and watch and listen and really start appreciating the absolutely spectacular creatures that we have among us."
His Twitter account regularly reports bird sightings in and around Central Park.
As for the 2020 incident, the Times notes that Christian Cooper had a "thoughtful, measured" reaction.
"I'm not excusing the racism," he said of Amy Cooper calling out his race in her 911 call. "But I don't know if her life needed to be torn apart."
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