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One hundred milestones defining the development of wildlife filmmaking.


Eadweard Muybridge's time-lapse photographs of a man riding a galloping horse Photographer Eadweard Muybridge takes a series of stills, proving all four of a horse's feet leave the ground at one time when it trots. These early 'animal locomotion’ photos are considered by most film historians to be the ‘origins’ of the moving picture. 1872
Das Boxende Känguruh premieres at the first public projection of motion pictures in Germany and is one of the earliest examples of animal behaviour on film. 1895
Rough Sea at Dover, considered by some to be the first natural history orientated film, premieres to a paying audience in New York City. 1896
British Mutoscope and Biograph Company, pioneers of early cinema technology, releases Pelicans at the Zoo 1897
The Sea Lions at Home premieres, regarded by many as the first true wildlife film due to is combination of wild animals, natural location and natural behaviour 1897
William Dickson The first British film featuring a staged confrontation between two animals is made by William K. Dickson and features a fight between a tarantula and a scorpion.
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1900
Charles Urban begins the Unseen World series of micro-bioscopic films with Cheese Mites. 1903
Oliver Pike's film, In Birdland, thought to be the first British wildlife film, is screened to a public fee-paying audience. 1907
Percy Smith's early time-lapse study, The Birth of a Flower, explores a variety of plants as they bloom, causing great excitement among cinemagoers. 1910
J. C. Hemment makes what may be the first aerial film of wildlife; filming a flock of wild ducks. 1911
Percy Smith's The Strength and Agility of Insects premieres showing insects lifting objects many times their size and weight. 1911
Terrors of the Deep, one of the earliest underwater motion pictures, is produced by Ernest Williamson. 1914
Inauguration of British Instructional Films' Secrets of Nature, with The Cuckoo's Secret shown as the first in a series which ran for 11 years. 1922
Martin and Osa Johnson's film, Simba, is released with large scale success in American cinemas. The film follows the couple armed with both rifle and camera, as they explore the African sub-continent in search of its wildlife. 1928
Cherry Kearton appears in front of the camera in his film, Dassan: An Adventure in Search of Laughter Featuring Nature’s Greatest Little Comedians. 1930
Congorilla by Martin and Osa Johnson is touted as the "first sound from darkest" Africa 1932
Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act passed in Britain to prevent cruelty to animals in films. 1937
The British film, The Private Life of the Gannets, is the first wildlife film to receive an Academy Award for Best One Reel Short Subject. 1937
Pirsch Unter Wasser follows Hans Hass as he explores life in a Caribbean coral reef and is one of the first underwater films to gain wide public attention. 1940
Hans Hass pioneers the use of self-contained diving equipment with flippers to explore previously inaccessible cave environments in his film Men Among Sharks. 1942
Marlin Perkins appears on early US TV (Chicago WBKB) in a series of programmes featuring zoo animals and thought to be the first wildlife television programme anywhere in the world. 1945
The first of Disney's True Life Adventures, Seal Island, is released with anthropomorphic tendencies. 1948
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) begins filming birds as part of its efforts to protect them. The silent films are intended as lecture accompaniments.
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1950
In Under the Red Sea, Hans and Lotte Hass explore a wealth of marine behaviour never captured before, including the first pictures of a whale shark underwater and the film wins first prize at Venice for feature-length documentary. 1951
Jacques Cousteau begins his career as a broadcaster and film producer and launches his famous research vessel Calypso. 1951
Jacques Cousteau takes the first underwater colour footage whilst researching in the Red Sea. 1952
David Attenborough's first television series featuring animals, The Pattern of Animals, airs on BBC. 1953
Disney's first feature-length True Life Adventure, The Living Desert, premieres. 1953
RSPB Film Unit formed. 1953
The first outside broadcast, Severn Wildfowl, is filmed at Slimbridge with Peter Scott. 1953
Wild Geese with Peter Scott, the first of a series of monthly wildlife programmes begins. 1953
Armand and Michaela Denis make their first appearance on British TV with their glamorous travelogue, Filming Wild Animals. 1954
Zoo Quest with David Attenborough airs on BBC. 1954
Diving to Adventure with Hans and Lotte Hass premieres on the BBC. 1955
Heinz Sielmann's Woodpeckers, with its pioneering filming techniques and never before seen footage from within woodpecker nest holes, is shown as part of the BBC's Look series. 1955
Look, a regular wildlife series featuring Peter Scott premieres on the BBC with Heinz Sielmann's film Foxes.
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1955
Second series of David Attenborough's Zoo Quest airs. 1955
Bernard Grzimek's releases his film, Kein Platz für wilde Tiere, which severely criticizes safari hunting and is regarded as one of the first conservation films. 1956
Desmond Morris presents Zoo Time, a children's TV series and the first natural history programming on ITV 1956
BBC Natural History Unit established. 1957
James Fisher presents A Visit to Hagenbeck's Zoo, the first BBC NHU Eurovision outside broadcast 1957
On Safari, with Armand and Michaela Denis, premieres on the BBC. 1958
The Undersea World of Adventure, with Hans and Lotte Hass, premieres on the BBC. 1958
Tony Soper produces the BBC's first full length wildlife film, The Fulmar 1958
White Wilderness, a Disney True Life Adventure, featuring the infamous faked lemming 'suicide', wins an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. 1958
Serengeti Shall Not Die is awarded an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. 1959
Countryman featuring Aubrey Buxton airs on Anglia TV. 1960
Eric Skinner and Gerald Thompson during filming for The Alder Woodwasp and its Insect Enemies Gerald Thompson engineers innovative lighting systems to deal with his microscopic subjects in The Alder Woodwasp and its Insect Enemies. 1960
Survival Anglia is established by Colin Willock and Aubrey Buxton. 1961
Survival's SOS Rhino premieres, thought to be one of the earliest examples of a conservation film. 1961
The London Scene, the first Survival production airs 1961
The Unknown Forest premieres on the BBC, featuring intimate footage of badgers, foxes and fallow deer captured using Eric Ashby's invention of a home-made sound-proof box, the 'blimp'. 1961
The first Animal Magic with Johnny Morris airs. 1962
The Major is the first BBC Natural History Unit (NHU) production to be filmed in colour. 1963
Miss Goodall and the Wild Chimpanzees, filmed by Hugo Van Lawick is the first National Geographic Television programme about wildlife and is shown on CBS. 1965
Born Free, a feature film based on Joy Adamson's book, brings wide popular attention to the plight of lions in Africa. 1966
The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau premieres on Australian TV network ABC. 1966
The Private Life of the Kingfisher is the first BBC production to be transmitted in colour. 1967
The World About Us strand premieres on BBC2. 1967
Oxford Scientific Films is founded by Gerald Thompson, David Thompson, Peter Parks, John Paling and Sean Morris. 1968
Signals for Survival, featuring Niko Tinbergen, airs on the BBC's World About Us strand exploring in great detail the behaviour of a single species; the lesser black-backed gull. 1968
Survival's The Enchanted Isles, is the first British natural history film to air on American network television. 1968
Des and Jen Bartlett's The Incredible Flight of the Snow Geese airs on American TV and wins two Emmys. 1973
Alan and Joan Root capture unique footage of wildebeest migration using cameras housed in tortoise shells in The Year of the Wildebeest. 1974
Partridge Films is founded by Michael Rosenberg. 1974
Survival's The Family that Lives with Elephants is broadcast on American TV after a brief copulation scene is removed. 1974
Badger Watch premieres, pioneering the 'live' wildlife format. 1977
Wildlife on One premieres on BBC1. 1977
David Attenborough's legendary encounter with a family of mountain gorillas is a highlight of Life on Earth 1979
Life on Earth, the BBC Natural History Unit's first mega-series, airs on BBC2. 1979
Animals in Action, Survival's wildlife programme for children, premieres with host Keith Shackleton. 1980
The BBC Natural History Unit's second mega-series, The Living Planet, premieres. 1982
The first Wildscreen Festival, co-founded by Chris Parsons and Peter Scott 1982
BBC2's longest running series, The Natural World, premieres. 1984
Discovery Channel premieres on cable in the US. 1985
BBC's childrens' wildlife programme, Really Wild Show, premieres on BBC. 1986
In-Flight Movie, featuring innovative on-board cameras gives a unique insight into ornithological flight. 1987
Meerkats United airs, and is later voted the best wildlife documentary of all time by BBC viewers  1987
Supersense, widely acclaimed for its stunning special effects and innovative filming techniques, premieres. 1988
Tony Soper and Martha Holmes present Reefwatch, the first ever live underwater broadcast. 1988
David Attenborough's The Trials of Life premieres. 1990
Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival founded. 1991
Mountain Gorilla directed by Adrian Warren is the first wildlife film made for IMAX. 1992
Echo of the Elephants - Cynthia Moss follows the trials and tribulations of an new born elephant called Echo  1993
Private Life of Plants airs on BBC TV. 1995
Animal Planet cable channel is launched. 1996
Mara Nights uses starlight cameras to reveal nocturnal animal behaviour. 1996
Big Cat Diary inaugurates the 'diary' model. 1997
National Geographic Channel (NGC) is launched. 1997
Steve Irwin makes his first UK TV appearance on The Ten Deadliest Snakes in the World with Steve Irwin. 1998
Walking with Dinosaurs uses blue-chip wildlife filmmaking techniques to present a hypothetical view of the natural world during the age of the dinosaurs. 1999
Predators: The Ultimate Killing Machines uses miniaturised cameras mounted on the hunters themselves to show the chase from the predators' perspective. 2000
The Blue Planet, the first comprehensive series concerning the natural history of the oceans airs. 2001
March of the Penguins feature film is distributed in theatres and achieves international success. 2005
Soap opera styled Meerkat Manor watched by more than 20 million people in the US alone, premieres on BBC TV. 2005
Springwatch premieres on BBC TV with nightly live broadcasts and encourages the public to record sightings of key British species via the website. 2005
Extinct airs on ITV, with celebrities highlighting the plight of some of the world's most endangered species and a public phone vote to decide which project received the funds raised. 2006
Planet Earth, the BBC's most ambitious mega-series, filmed in HD, premieres.
Alastair Fothergill
2006
Saving Planet Earth airs on BBC TV. 2007
David Attenborough completes his 'Life' series with Life in Cold Blood 2008
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Antarctica - The Last Frontier: Wildscreen Special Award, 1990
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Year of the Flame Bird: Fate of those left behind
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Peter Scott: Woodpeckers: Heinz Sielmann in the studio
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