Wild Alaska Live: An Interview with Martin and Chris Kratt

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Wild Alaska Live, a PBS and BBC co-production, captures life and survival in the Alaskan wilderness. This three-part, not-to-be-missed live event airs July 23, 26 and 30, at 5 pm on KQED Plus and at 8 pm on KQED 9, as a part of the PBS Summer of Adventure lineup. Over three nights, this multi-platform production turns the cameras on a must-see natural spectacle that plays out across the vast Alaskan wilderness, where some of the world’s most remarkable animals—bears, wolves, moose, orcas and eagles—gather by the thousands to take part in Alaska’s summer feast, an event never before captured live on television.

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. They recently answered questions from PBS about the upcoming show.

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 traveled 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 Live strives 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 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: 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: 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: Beyond broadcast, how can viewers follow this story?

Martin Kratt: During the week, on-air and off, you can follow the action on the PBS website and on social media and go deeper with behind-the-scenes looks, stunning photos and videos, and interactive games. To get up-to-the-minute updates and information, go to PBS.org/WildAlaskaLive and follow us @PBS #AlaskaLive.