Q & A With Dominic Monaghan

In anticipation of Travel Channel’s new Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan, we sat down with the aforementioned host and big-screen star to get an inside perspective of what the show’s all about. From exotic locations and animals to personal influences and bucket lists, Dom dishes on all things wild in this exclusive 1-on-1 interview.

Your love for animals began as a child. What influenced your passion for nature and wildlife?

Curiosity, first and foremost. I just wanted to know what everything was and why it was. The books I would read and TV I would watch often had a natural-history slant.

Your dad was a biologist; did that help shape your love for animals?

My dad taught biology, and certainly, his reverence for animals and for the diversity of life shaped me, as did my mum’s love for creatures.  

Did you and your family travel a lot? If so, does that feed your love for world travel and adventure?

Yes. My brother has lived all over Europe and some places in South America. My parents love traveling. They’ve been to the USA, South America, New Zealand and almost everywhere in Europe. I've been trying to get them to go to Southeast Asia for years.

What do you do to bolster your knowledge of animals? Do you travel the world on your own time to learn about wildlife?

I'm always reading fiction and nonfiction. The nonfiction is usually animal-based. I also keep snakes, lizards, mantids, scorpions and whip scorpions, and I recently got 2 beehives on my property, so I expose myself to their behavior daily. I specifically take notes of body language and posture. How there is a direct communication between wild animal and human is fascinating. They always clearly tell you things; you just have to know the language.

How much are animals a part of your life outside of Wild Things?

My day is filled with some sort of animal activity, whether first thing in the morning or last thing at night. They give me so much back. The ability to share space with something wild is an honor and feeds the spirit.

You also own a tree farm in India. Why?

Love India. Love mangoes. Had the chance to do it. Did it!

You have great respect and curiosity for our planet. Why is this important to you?

At this point, the planet is all we have to survive on. It is an ancient, living entity, and we barely know anything about it or its inhabitants. In exploring it further, the respect I have for it grows. 

Everyone loves dogs and cats, and I do, too, but it's the underdog that I'm drawn to. The misunderstood. The vilified.

If we value the life of dogs and cats and treat them with love, that same emotion should extend to minute creatures and animals that scare us. A "scary" animal is still an important animal with a life that has value.

There’s a spider named after you. How did that happen?

While working in Laos looking for the world’s largest spider, our arachnologist, Peter Jaeger, and I collected some specimens around and in the cave. One turned out to be a new species. Peter gave me the great honor of naming it. Boom! Monaghan spider!

Could you highlight a few of the animals from the first 2 seasons of filming that were most memorable? Surprising? Harrowing?

The world’s largest spider in Laos was a deep-breath kind of moment. Trust in your training, etc. Anytime you see a venomous snake or creature, it's exciting. Cobras are always fun. Vipers are so beautiful to look at. The gaboon viper was hypnotically beautiful.

Frank, one of our crew members, almost being killed by an elephant is hard to forget.

I love the ant-mimic spider. Mimicry in nature is spellbinding.

I love it all. The animals we share this world with inspire me and fill me with joy.

As you prepare for the next round of episodes and locations, where are you most excited to travel? And which animals are you most looking forward to encountering?

Hopefully swimming with a whale shark, for one. I would love to discover the fer-de-lance in Belize, a mythological snake. Definitely jellyfish in Palau and hyenas in Ethiopia will be great, too.

I like exploring the cities and then getting my head right for the animals. They are easier to understand than the humans, so the cities can be difficult at times.

What’s on your destination bucket list?

Christmas Island, Guam, the Galapagos IslandsChile, northern Canada, Siberia, CambodiaMyanmar, Tasmania and Tonga.

What’s on your animal bucket list?

Giant squid, blue whale, tarantula hawk, secretary bird, aardwolf, fossa, ant lion, giant earthworm, panda, Tasmanian devil, king cobra, banded sea krait, mandrill, botfly and Pacific octopus. 

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