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If anyone's earned the title of 'national treasure' by now, it's surely Sir David Attenborough. He may not be particularly keen on the phrase ("You needn't bother with that," he told the Telegraph in a 2009 interview) but it's pretty accurate - everyone loves him.
From award-winning documentaries like Blue Planet and Planet Earth to his grandad-like presenting style, he's given us some unforgettable telly while providing us with a greater insight into nature and the animal kingdom. But did you know he was nails as well?
As revealed in an excerpt from the 91-year-old TV veteran's recent memoir, he once wrestled a wolf. Bloody hell, I usually feel like I've accomplished a Herculean feat if I've managed to get up and go for a jog, before returning home to wheeze and splutter on the sofa.
In Adventures of a Young Naturalist, Sir David details one eventful night in Paraguay, as locals descended on his camera crew to present animals they should film. Finally, one local arrived with 'an absolutely majestic beast' - a large rare wolf.
"This was the extremely rare maned wolf, a glorious creature which lives only in the Chaco and the northern part of Argentina," writes Sir Dave. "Its long legs enable it to run extremely swiftly and some people have claimed it is the fastest of all land animals, excelling even the cheetah.
"I was overjoyed to have it, especially as we had recently received a message from London Zoo telling us they had acquired from a German zoo a male maned wolf, and asking if we could find a mate for him. By a stroke of luck, this one was a female.
"Housing her presented us with a great problem. Not only was her present cage flimsy, but it was so small the poor creature was unable to turn round. She raised no objection when Appolonio, a young man who had been helping us care for the animals, and I fitted a collar round her neck and tethered her to a tree.
Credit: sarefo (Creative Commons)
"I offered her some raw meat, but she spurned it. Appolonio insisted we should instead give her some bananas. It seemed an unlikely diet for a wolf, but to my surprise she polished off four.
"We set to work to transform a wooden crate into a cage for her. Appolonio put more bananas in it to coax her inside, but she leapt over a chicken wire fence and was gone.
"By now it was dark. We ran to fetch torches and for an hour Charles, Appolonio and I scoured the garden. But we could find no trace of her. Increasingly gloomy, we divided forces, each of us combing one section of the garden.
"'Senor! Senor!' shouted Appolonio eventually. 'She's here!'
"I ran across and found him shining his torch on the wolf, which was sitting snarling in the middle of a small clearing surrounded by cactus plants.
Sir David Attenborough receiving an award for services to wildlife. Not for wolf-wrestling. Credit: PA
"Now we had found her, I wondered rather vaguely what to do next. While I was still thinking, Appolonio leapt over the cactus and grabbed her by the neck. I could hardly hang back while he was being so courageous, so I jumped over it myself and dived on top of them.
"By the time I had disentangled myself the wolf had fastened her jaws on Appolonio's hand, enabling me to straddle her and hold her head without risking being bitten myself.
"To my huge relief we found when she released her grip that he was not badly hurt.
"While all this had been going on Charles had gone to fetch the cage. After what seemed like an interminable delay with the wolf struggling in our arms, he arrived and we were able to bundle her inside. It was one of the crowning moments of our expedition."
Fucking hell, imagine telling that one in the pub.
I'll say it again: NATIONAL TREASURE.
Adventures of a Young Naturalist is out now, published by Two Roads (RRP £25).
Featured Image Credit: PA / Sage Ross (Creative Commons)
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