North American Nature Photography Association

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NANPA Oral History Project -

Erwin Bauer

Erwin Bauer

Date of Interview: January 18, 2004
Interviewer: Shirley Nuhn (SN)
Transcriber: Susie Parrent
Length: 72 minutes
(Also present are his wife, Peggy Bauer (PB), and John Nuhn, photo director, National Wildlife magazine)

Track 7: (5:00 min.)

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EB ...has something to do with it. You say, "Well, is there any place around here that we can shoot wild 'roos?" for example, and the people, hell, they'll tell you "Oh, yeah, right down here, you know, here's some" and usually they're right. Peggy was in the back of a yard one time shooting some cute little things.

PB: Potoroos.

EB: Yeah, it's what possums are. They were standing in the yard performing for her and there was a house nearby, and a head looked out the window and this lady yelled out to Peggy [adopting an Australian accent], "Those are potoroos, is what they are!" You know, that kind of attitude.

SN: So these animals appear just about any place, in people's backyards?

EB: Yeah. And also there are a lot of nice wild animal parks in Australia, too. You know, even that crazy crocodile guy.

SN: Oh, yes, yes.

EB: He has a good one up near...

PB: Steve Irwin.

EB: Steve Irwin, yeah.

SN: So you've got favorite places in every continent, it seems.

EB: New Zealand is nice, too. New Zealand is a great chance to mix scenic photography with wildlife photography. And also New Zealanders are very nice, too.

SN: If you could travel tomorrow, where would you go back?

EB: Well, you've [referring to Peggy] been so nice to me in my illness, if you wanted to go someplace and if it was the Bronx Zoo, I'd have to go with you.

SN: But if I said it's up to you?

EB: Oh, boy, that's a good question.

SN: Your dream travel of tomorrow.

EB: Pardon?

SN: Your dream travel.

EB: Boy, there are so many.

PB: Skipping airports.

EB: I think I'd like to answer that a different way. I've always enjoyed finding new places, where there's new stuff that nobody knew about, or not many, and doing that. For instance, for many years I think Peggy and I had the only swift foxes in anybody's file.

PB: And gorillas, too.

EB: Yeah, those eastern lowland gorillas. Now we may still have the only pictures of them, because it's believed that they've been eliminated since then. But I don't want to go back to photograph gorillas, I'll tell you that.

SN: They are extinct? They are eliminated? Totally gone?

EB: Well, this one species, this eastern lowland, you ought to be specific on that.

SN: Okay.

EB: They're all rare. Western lowland and the mountain, too. But that's [eastern lowland] the rarest of all and there may not be many.

SN: How fortunate you were to get pictures of them.

EB: Yeah. That was our hairiest experience, too, that trip. I don't know if I'd go back even if there were lots of them.

SN: You mean getting there or once you were there?

EB: The people.

SN: The people?

EB: Yeah, the Zaire people. Oh, God, the place was a turmoil, anarchy. [to Peggy] Should I tell her the story? Okay, she said "No."

SN: No?

PB: It's too long.

SN: Okay. How long ago was that, your hairiest experience?

EB: Twenty years?

PB: Twenty, at least.

SN: Twenty years. So this was a political situation?

EB: Yeah, it was political and everything. I'll tell you real quick. There are two places and we were waiting at this one town - Goma - and we had to fly to another town [Bukavu] on Zaire Airways, which is not reliable, anyway. And the president of the company had taken this plane that we were going to fly on.

PB: President of the country.

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