With over 15 million subscribers, the YouTube channel Brave Wilderness follows Coyote Peterson as he goes on adventures around the world and encounters all manner of animals, from creepy and crawly to furry and fierce. Now Peterson has a new show on Animal Planet, Brave the Wild, bringing his expeditions to television. “The real thematic that runs through every episode is to introduce people to the weird, bizarre creatures that they possibly didn’t know exist,” said Peterson. We caught up with him for our “5 Questions.”
1. Where did your interest in animals start?
My mom is super into the outdoors. She’s real big into birding and bird conservation, and she would actually travel my sister and I across the United States every summer, when we would be out of school on summer break. We would drive in an old Chevy Suburban with this little tiny trailer. We would spend anywhere from six to 10 weeks traveling the United States and camping all across midwestern America, and the Southwest, and all over the place. That really opened my eyes to the different creatures, from mammals to reptiles, amphibians, insects, arachnids — everything that was out there, I was getting up close with at a very early age. [From] that stemmed my love for adventure.
2. What are three things you need to bring every time you go on an excursion?
One of the most important things that you wouldn’t think about, because we put on shoes every single day, is actually my hiking boots. If you’re going to be out there for hours or days at a time, it’s important to make sure that your feet are happy, first and foremost. So my boots are, I guess, always the number one priority. My whole adventure kit that I carry in my backpack — whether it’s knives, or flashlights, or trail cameras — are also incredibly important. And my kit shifts from location to location, based on what animals we’re looking for or what environments we have to deal with. And the third thing is probably my cowboy hat. My leather cowboy hat has become its own character over the course of the past five years, and it’s become an iconic image within the realm of the Brave Wilderness universe. So I never embark on the adventure without my lucky hat.
3. Do you have a favorite animal movie you can watch over and over?
My top three favorite movies of all time would be Jaws, Jurassic Park, and the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. I was this huge Ninja Turtles fan. And I mean the first one, as in from 1990, when Jim Henson and his puppet shop did all of the turtles and whatnot. I can watch all three of those movies at any given time from any part, and they technically all have animals in them.
4. Tell us about a crazy moment from this season of Brave the Wild.
We did an episode in South America on green anacondas — anacondas are one of the largest snake species on the planet. In one of the scenes, I had to enter into the den of what was rumored to be the largest anaconda in the world, quite possibly world record. Her name is Big Mama. And we didn’t know if she would be in her den, and I had to slink through this muddy portal and up into this sawgrass field. So I was completely swallowed by the environment, completely alone, holding the camera myself, to find out if that snake was, in fact, in her den. And I don’t want to give anything away for the episode, but it’s definitely one of our more suspenseful moments throughout the first season of the show.
5. Did you have pets growing up?
We had a dog growing up, and we had what I would call temporary pets. My mom would oftentimes let me catch and keep turtles or snakes or frogs for a couple of days, and then I’d admire them in a small little aquarium, and then we would release them back off into the wild. My mom did have a tarantula — that was her one consistent pet. Growing up, it was just always this famous thing, that my mom had a tarantula. So [that] probably explains a lot about me.