Q&A With the Kratts
Wild Alaska Live is hosted by Emmy Award-winning zoologists, adventurers and brothers Chris Kratt and Martin Kratt, the creators, executive producers and stars of the hit PBS KIDS series Wild Kratts.
PBS: What about exploring America’s last frontier and being a part of Wild Alaska Live is most exciting for you?
MARTIN KRATT: We’ve travelled all over the world on expeditions to some of the most remote wildlife locations, and we can say without a doubt that Alaska is a real treasure in terms of both sheer beauty and awe-inspiring wildlife. It’s one of the few remaining places on earth where you can truly experience raw, unspoiled wilderness. We’re looking forward to taking viewers along on an expedition-in-progress to get a unique look at a truly fascinating piece of our natural heritage.
CHRIS KRATT: Yes, it’s also exciting that this is going to be a live broadcast. One of the most thrilling aspects of any wildlife expedition is the fact that you never know exactly what to expect. In fact, you come to expect the unexpected. Animals and nature are unpredictable and will often surprise you with unexpected behaviors. That is why we love doing what we do. Wild Alaska Livestrives to capture the thrill of an expedition-in-progress by embracing the unexpected with live broadcasts from remote locations around Alaska. We’ll be in all the right places for awesome wildlife encounters, but exactly what it is we will uncover is yet to be seen.
PBS: What will viewers learn from Wild Alaska Live? Why is late July such an important time for Alaska?
CHRIS KRATT: One huge focus of Wild Alaska Live is to get an up-close look at how the bountiful summer months are absolutely key to the overall survival of so many Alaskan animals. Alaska is bursting with life during late July. Rivers are packed with salmon on their epic journey to breed. Bears are actively taking care of their young and exploiting every food source they can find. Beavers busily repair their homes and fill up their food stores. Everyone is so focused on taking advantage of this short window of time to prepare for the long, hard winter months to come. Whoever is successful now, will survive. Those who are not, likely won’t make it through. There’s that old saying, “Preparation is the key to success.” Perhaps no one understands that more than the creatures of Alaska.
PBS: What is the significance of areas like the Tongass National Forrest, Kenai Fjords National Park and Hallo Bay?
CHRIS KRATT: These places and others are key habitats for a wide variety of wildlife species. They’re the types of places for any wildlife adventurer’s “bucket list.” Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in all of the USA – 17 million acres of unique temperate rain forest habitat with rare and classic American wildlife – like bald eagles, mountain goats, deer, wolves, sea otters, orcas, Arctic terns and so much more.
MARTIN KRATT: Katmai Park is known for its huge concentration of black bears. The coastal bays support so many rich food sources – from salmon to clams, sedges to bird nests – that it’s a virtual bear smorgasbord in summertime. It’s where we’ve had some of our most up-close-and-personal looks at brown bear behavior. And Kenai Fjords has one of the largest ice fields in the US, plus many glacier-carved fjords – it’s a great place to see how glaciers and ice fields have influenced the landscape and the habitats of so many animals.
PBS: What wildlife do you expect to see on Wild Alaska Live?
MARTIN KRATT: We expect to see a great variety of wildlife over the course of the three-night broadcast. Alaska’s coastlines are bustling with life fed by the nutrient rich currents of the North Pacific Ocean – so we’ll be on the lookout for walrus, whales, orcas, salmon sharks and more. Further inland, we’ll have a look at salmon heading upstream to breed, brown bears and brown bears using unique tactics to get at a surprising variety of food sources. Plus wolves, bald eagles, marmots, beavers and so much more. We’ll even take a close look at how glaciers affect the homes of these animals. And since we’ll be live broadcasting from special wildlife hotspots, there will be that wonderful element of surprise that comes with any expedition.
PBS: Are there common misconceptions about Alaska and its wildlife? If so, what are they?
CHRIS KRATT: Many people probably think of Alaska as a dangerous wilderness with threatening wildlife. And there certainly are some serious predators deserving of respect, but the truth is that, for the most part, these animals would rather not interact with humans. They are focused on their own survival, on finding their natural foods, raising their young, building their homes, and making the most of the warm and bountiful summer. That’s something we share with so many of our fellow creatures and we hope to get an inside look at their daily lives in pursuit of those goals.
PBS: What are kids going to learn from this special?
MARTIN KRATT: The salmon runs are a great example of how interconnected animals can be with an ecosystem. This incredible wildlife event is so important to such a huge variety of animals (and even trees and plants!) that rely on the salmon as a food sources. It’s a critical event for the entire ecosystem!
CHRIS KRATT: And, at the same time, the story of this journey emphasizes the many impressive abilities, or creature powers, of the salmon themselves – from being able to smell their way home to the ability to leap up massive waterfalls. But perhaps their greatest creature power of all is perseverance. The ability to press on in the face of impossible obstacles and achieve their ultimate goal!
PBS: What kind of animals will kids see? Any that can only be found in Alaska?
MARTIN KRATT: Besides the salmon themselves, there are many animals that will be encountered along the way, including orcas, salmon sharks, sea lions, brown bears, mink, bald eagles, wolves and more. All these animals have important “creature connections” with the salmon and they have some very cool creature powers themselves. Kids will be treated to some pretty cool Creature Power Suit activations in this special!