Bernhard and Michael Grzimek

© Okapi
Serengeti Shall Not Die

In 1957, Professor Bernhard Grzimek, President of the Frankfurt Zoolgical Society, and his son
Michael arrived to start their research on the wildebeest migration and to make a film on the subject. They brought a zebra-striped aircraft with them. They also brought out one of Germany's top documentary cameramen, but filming wildlife was so alien to him that he left within a couple of weeks. So the Grzimeks took on Alan Root, who had very little experience but knew the Serengeti well. Almost exactly a year later with the film less than half shot, Michael was killed when he crashed his plane and Root was left to finish the filming. "Serengeti Shall Not Die" was awarded an Oscar, put the Serengeti firmly on the map and did much to alert the world to the plight of Africa's wildlife.

Root continued to film for Professor Grzimek's TV series "A Place for Animals" ("Ein Platz für Tiere"). Several of the films they shot were made with the express intention of developing tourism in East Africa. Grzimek showed a montage of wonderful wildlife and scenery and told the viewers that they could see all this if enough of them pressured their travel agents. He had worked out what it would cost to rent a Boeing 707 and told his millions of viewers that, if they booked in large enough numbers, the price would come down to something very affordable. Within weeks, the first package tours were leaving Germany for East Africa. It was an amazing demonstration of the power of television.

The Serengeti is now visited by film crews from all over the world. Many of them filming the same old stories. But they are timeless stories, to be re-told for every generation and, because of them, "Serengeti" remains a household word and one of the best known National Parks in the world.

Click the camera to see a scene of "Serengeti shall not die".
Click here to get the Plugin.

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