Chris Packham

Chris Packham is a wildlife expert who is best known for his work as a television presenter on the BBC. He has presented wildlife programmes like The Really Wild Show (from 1986 to 1995) and Springwatch (since 2009). He has been involved as a cameraman as well as a presenter on dozens of other nature shows for multiple television networks. He is also a committed conservation activist. He holds multiple positions as patron, president or vice-president of a variety of conservation trusts including the RSPB and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. 

In 2003, at the age of 42, Packham began seeing a therapist after the death of his dog. As his work with the therapist concluded in 2005, he was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome. He has also stated that he has suffered from severe depression.

Early life

Chris was born in Southampton, Hampshire. During his early childhood, natural history was his main passion. He was educated at Bitterne Park Secondary School, Taunton’s College  and the University of Southampton, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology. After graduating, he cancelled his study towards a Doctorate of Philosophy to train as a wildlife cameraman.

He found his time at school very difficult, being socially excluded and regularly bullied by fellow pupils. In his teenage years, he was responsible for the care of a kestrel, which he took from the wild. The death of the bird was a severe low point in his life. 

Self-discovery

As part of the BBC documentary “Aspergers and Me”, Packham flew to America to witness a range of different autism therapies: from ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis). To the more controversial TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation). In the programme, Packham bridled when autism was compared to cancer and such treatments to “educational chemotherapy” He stated that he would never take a cure, even if one became available.

Visiting Silicon Valley, where the tech boom has been built by people with autistic traits, he made the wider point that society needs to understand autistic people, not try to change them. Harness their gifts and they could become a valuable asset.

He now lives in the New Forest with his pet poodle, Scratchy. For over ten years Packham has been in a relationship with Charlotte Corney, owner of the Isle of Wight Zoo, although the couple live separately. In October 2017, the National Autism Society named Chris as its ambassador. 

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Sources:

Adapted from:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/2017/10/17/chris-packham-aspergers-brave-utterly-fascinating-documentary/

https://www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/media-centre/news/2017-10-16-chris-packham-ambassador.aspx

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Packham