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'River Monsters' Host Jeremy Wade on Deadly Electric Eels and Other 'Creepy' Fish

by Jean Bentley, posted Apr 17th 2011 12:00PM
Jeremy Wade, River MonstersJeremy Wade, host of Animal Planet's 'River Monsters,' has made it his mission to hunt down the real-life aquatic animals behind the world's most fearsome urban legends.

Last week's season 3 premiere tackled the red bellied pacu of Papua New Guinea, said to mutilate certain, uh, parts of the male anatomy. This week, Wade goes after the New Zealand longfin eel, a species that can grow up to 6 feet long and appears in many ancient Maori tales.

AOL TV met up with the soft-spoken British host at a lunch in New York City last week, where he talked about the evolution of his show, which was just renewed for a fourth season.

"The whole thing started as a one-off program," he tells us. "Season 3, I think there's a limited number of the obvious large fish with teeth. We're getting into a more quirky territory -- possibly the fish aren't so big, but in a lot of ways that's more creepy."

'River Monsters' is Animal Planet's highest-rated show, which is strange for a show that is ostensibly about ... fishing.

"It's not really a fishing show, although fishing does come into it," Wade contends. "Fishing is a means to an end. We want to see this creature. If a fishing line is the way to do it, then we'll do that, but if there's another way of doing it, we'll do that."

Later this season, he'll tackle Japanese catfish who are said to cause earthquakes (an episode that was filmed long before the recent natural disaster) and the formidable Amazonian electric eel.

Jeremy Wade, River MonstersAs for the electric eels, "they actually looked unimpressive. We actually spoke to an eyewitness who saw someone standing literally a few feet away, dying in the water with one of these things shocking him, but he couldn't actually go and help because he would've become a victim as well."

Despite the sometimes disturbing subject matter, Wade says 'River Monsters' is a family show. In fact, one of the best moments from Wade's recent book tour in support of his 'River Monsters' book was when a starstruck 6-year-old approached him at a signing in New York City last week.

"What's really nice is how many children tune in to watch, all the way down to quite young -- 5-year-olds even," he says. "Sometimes they will email me -- or their parents will, on their behalf. A number of people say it's the one thing that the entire family can agree about in terms of what they're going to watch. There's something for everyone there."

Ultimately, Wade says the oddball appeal of the folklore he investigates draws viewers to his program. "The stories are quite unpleasant, but people have this fascination with this kind of thing."

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Ropen2win

nice fish

April 17 2011 at 9:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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