May 29

Liz Shaw, ARKive Species Text AuthorI’ve been interested in the natural world for as long as I can remember, and as a kid could often be found outside doing odd things like collecting pet snails, making hedgehog feeders and running a Nature Club with my friends!

After studying Zoology at the University of Bristol, I worked on various volunteer projects abroad and studied for an MSc in Animal Behaviour, before returning to Bristol to join the ARKive team as a Species Text Author in 2008. I now help to write the texts that accompany the species profiles, as well as working on the blog and a range of other writing tasks.

Outside of work, I can often be found roaming the countryside with binoculars and camera in hand, although I’m also quite addicted to various crafts like crochet and card-making!

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently writing profiles for species affected by climate change, as part of a project supported by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. I’ve just finished writing the long-snouted bat, dusky gopher frog and green-eyed frog, and will be working on various coral species soon.

What animal skill would you most like to have?

I’ve always wanted to be able to fly! Or perhaps to be able to see ultraviolet light, like many birds and insects, or infrared, like some snakes. It would make the world a more colourful place and also come in handy for seeing in the dark!

Which three people would you invite to the ultimate dinner party?

I know he’s probably booked up already, but Sir David Attenborough has just turned 85 so perhaps we could make it a belated birthday bash!

If Helen doesn’t mind, I’d also love to invite J.K. Rowling so I can find out how she came up with such ingenious books. It would also be useful to have a good cook, so Jamie Oliver would be very welcome, or for entertainment value perhaps Johnny Depp could come and tell us about his latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie?!

Where in the world would you most like to go?

There’s a saying that once you drink from the waters of the Tambopata River in Peru, you will be destined to return one day. That’s certainly been true for me as I’ve been there three times already! I fell in love with the Amazon the first time I visited, so I’d love go back.

Failing that, I’d also like to see some of the amazing wildlife of the Pantanal in Brazil, or some of the stunning landscapes and bizarre creatures of New Zealand.

What are you most looking forward to doing this summer?

I’m gradually getting to know the best places to see wildlife around Bristol, so I can’t wait to get out and about more to see what I can spot.

Which celebrity do you most look like?

Er… I really have no idea. I don’t think I Iook like anyone in particular!

What’s the best wildlife encounter you’ve ever had?

Some of my favourite encounters have to be watching hundreds of parrots, parakeets and macaws gathering at a clay lick, or waking up to the unearthly sound of howler monkeys. Catching bats at night, in a thunderstorm, in a mosquito-infested Mexican swamp was also strangely brilliant!

However, if I had to pick one, it would be when I was surveying black caimans at Explorer’s Inn in Peru. Out on a lake one night, I leant over the front of the canoe and got the shock of my life when the caiman inches away from me turned out to be a four metre giant!

What’s your favourite thing on ARKive?

This raven video never fails to make me laugh, while I find the African rock python swallowing an antelope quite incredible. When I wrote the text for the Weddell seal I discovered what bizarre calls it has – more like an alien than a mammal!

Not surprisingly, my favourite species are from the Amazon, particularly the scarlet macaw, black caiman, saddleback tamarin and amazing leaf-cutter ant.

Tell us an animal related joke.

One day the snail lost his shell. He didn’t mind too much although it did make him a bit sluggish!

  • Doug Norris (May 31st, 2011 at 10:53 am):

    If you want to visit New Zealand, let us know. We’ll do our best to provide you with some local knowledge and hopefully help to make your trip worthwhile. We do not have the number of species that you would find in the Amazon for example, but what we do have is very fascinating!
    PS I suggest that you bring a video camera!

  • Liz (May 31st, 2011 at 3:14 pm):

    Thanks Doug! I will definitely have to visit one day soon :)