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Photo of Rick West RICK WEST

Rick West was born in Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, in Canada. He attended Camosum College and the University of Victoria, and during his college years he was encouraged by his biology professor, Mrs. Ruby Littlepage, and his entomology professor, Dr. Richard Ring, to continue to explore an interest in arachnology that had begun when he was a teenager. Later Rick was made an honorary associate at the local museum specializing in the field of arachnology, but there were no jobs in Victoria for arachnologists. He went to work for the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and has been employed with them since 1974, now as a Chief Special Constable.

Considered by many academic colleagues as one of the leading authorities in the world on tarantula spiders, Rick assists scientific institutions, scientists and hobbyists around the world with questions or with identifying tarantula species. He has written numerous publications about tarantulas and been a scientific consultant for films, museums and zoos.

Rick says his philosophy is, "Don't let anyone discourage you from pursuing your interests!" His passion has taken him to over fourteen countries to study tarantulas, including Kenya, Tanzania, Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago. Just before Spiders! aired in April,1999, Rick returned from two weeks in French Guiana, where he was photographing and studying tarantula spiders, as well as taking in the beauty and wonders of the rainforest.

See Rick West's answers to Ask the Scientists questions.

Rick is also featured in Cool Careers in Science.


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.