Los Altos native Camille Fritsch is living the dream of many – appearing on his favorite childhood television show.
Fritsch – a senior researcher and project manager specializing in hippo research at South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal – appears as a scientific expert in two episodes of National Geographic’s new TV series, “Something Bit Me,” which dives into the stories behind animal or insect attacks that have sent people to the emergency room and the scientific explanations behind the attacks. He was featured in the April 17 episode, and will be in an episode set to air Sunday as well.
Fritsch, who in an earlier Town Crier article (Feb. 23) said he has been an avid National Geographic fan since he was young, noted last week that it felt “tremendous” to have the opportunity to become the hippo expert on the show. He added that the experience was a “real ‘cherry on top’ moment” – a culmination of his hippo research in South Africa.
“They did a preliminary interview to see if I would be able to survive in front of a camera, and apparently I could, so it was really awesome,” the Los Altos High graduate said. “It was such a fantastic, fairy-tale moment.”
Last month’s episode eight of “Something Bit Me” follows the story of tourist Kristen Yaldor of Tampa Bay, Fla., who went kayaking with her husband on the Zambezi River in Zimbab-
we, Africa. Her kayak flipped, and while trying to swim onto land, she was dragged underwater by a hippo and suffered a serious leg injury. Fritsch’s role in the episode was to provide the scientific explanation for the hippo’s behavior.
“As a scientist, you don’t want to be there saying that her feelings or her story are not viable – it’s completely viable,” he said. “For me, it was about contextualizing it, and making sure that hippos weren’t at the end of the day made out to be these incredibly dangerous and ferocious creatures, because they’re not; it (was) just the wrong place, wrong time.”
This week, Fritsch will appear in episode 11, titled “Everything Went Dark….” He wasn’t allowed to share a detailed description of the episode, though he mentioned that it will be on “another charismatic river with a large hippo population, a large crocodile population, lots of different wildlife, (and) all the big and ‘scaries’ are there – elephants, leopards and lions.”
For more information, visit nationalgeographic.com/tv/shows/something-bit-me.