Lynn Sherr leads celebration of PBS’ ‘Nature’s’ 25th anniversary


Sunday night, PBS serves up a generous portion of “birthday” goodies to celebrate “Nature’s” 25th anniversary. Excerpts from 16 shows are packed into one hour of television, and some of those snippets reach back 20 years.

Viewers will visit “India: Land of the Tiger,” “Kingdom of the Ice Bear” and even return to “Deep Jungle,” where last year we met moonwalking birds.

The voice that guides from snippet to snippet belongs to Lynn Sherr, an award-winning journalist whose been with ABC’s “20/20” for two decades.

She says her soft spot for wildlife and nature (lowercase “n”) began in childhood, and a dedication to its preservation remains constant.

“My family owned children’s camps, so I was either in the cabins with other kids in summer, or we were there as a family for weekends the rest of the year. I literally learned to swim from watching frogs. And those little red salamanders – newts? They were my best friends.”

Lions and tigers and bears and all the rest of the planet’s creatures are entitled to care and respect simply because “they can’t survive without us, but we can’t survive without them,” Sherr says.

“It doesn’t have to be either/or, and there really is no distinction between the worlds of people and animals. I would say there is room for both.”

In fact, given the chance to report exclusively on wildlife, she would take it – now.

“I would do it,” she says. “You know I have this new book (“Outside the Box: A Memoir”), and it has forced me to be aware of all that I’ve done. Understand, I’m not ready to pack it in yet, but given the chance, yes, I would like to do more wildlife reporting right now. It both excites and calms me. It centers me.”

Wildlife enthusiasts already must be familiar with Sherr’s wildlife writings, in particular a book titled “Tall Blondes” about the life of giraffes. Her love affair with those long-necked, doe-eyed creatures began on her first trip to East Afrida.

“I’ll never forget the first time I saw giraffes running in the wild,” she says and then she quotes from “Tall Blondes.” “They are the most politically correct of all animals – vegetarians, pacifists that never attack except under threat, and they do not discriminate against other giraffes on the basis of their skin patterns – of which there are many.”

Giraffes are not silent, she corrects us, but make sounds – actually exhalations of air – which we can hear and other sounds only other giraffes can hear.

“I would love to be able to have a conversation with one,” she says.

Sherr deflects the would-a, could-a, should-a questions about alternate careers and even about advice to others as enchanted with wildlife as she is.

” I would tell young people, anyone, to follow their hearts in whatever they do,” she says. “Always try to do what makes your heart sing.”

“The Best of Nature – 25 Years” airs live on PBS at 8 p.m. Sunday, but check local listings for broadcast times.