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International Cosmos Prize

The Prizewinner 2000

Name Sir David Attenborough
Born on 8 May 1926
Nationality United Kingdom
Title Producer, Naturalist, Zoologist

Reason for Awarding

Among the magnum opuses of Sir David Attenborough is “Zoo Quest,” a TV program that the BBC broadcast throughout Europe for the decade commencing in 1954. In this series, the life of animals in the wild was filmed in Africa, South East Asia, South America, Australia, and other parts of the world. After that, Sir David Attenborough continued to produce outstanding documentaries, one after another: “Life on Earth (1979),” a series on the evolution of life on this planet; “The Living Planet (1984),” depicting the natural world from an ecological perspective; “The Trials of Life (1990),” describing the struggle for existence among wild animals; and “The Private Life of Plants (1995),” showing how plants struggle for existence in various habitats. These series have been broadcast in many countries in the world and have received great acclaim. In the 20th century, science has made breakthrough progress through analytical and reductive research methodologies. In the field of life science also, molecular research has developed at an unprecedented pace. At the same time, it cannot be denied that people, affected by such scientific progress, threaten to lose the real vision of life-forms, the subjects of such analytical research. Sir David Attenborough has described particulars of struggles among life-forms through films, strongly advocating an important perspective of grasping phenomena connected with life-forms in a comprehensive manner. In this respect, his works have underlined basic aspects of biology by presenting a holistic view of the natural world, raising incisive questions about today's science and presenting insightful suggestions. Sir David Attenborough's films feature not only beautiful images of rare life-forms and unique ecologies, but also a clear perspective, with deep understanding and a straightforward approach to the essentials of global life, such as the evolution of life, various ecologies, struggles for existence and interdependence of life-forms. All of his works have strong appeal for international audiences in that they express deep awe of life and a strong will to seek an answer to the question “What is life?” In this respect, his works have provided audiences with vital pointers in considering how people should coexist with nature. For these achievements, Sir David Attenborough has received high acclaim as a researcher as well in the United Kingdom: he was selected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1983, and was knighted in 1985.

Therefore, we have concluded that his achievements are surely worthy for the award of the International Cosmos Prize, the aim of which has been to search out and give recognition to individuals and teams from all over the world that have contributed to promotion of the basic concept of the Prize, The “Harmonious Coexistence of Nature and Mankind.”


1947 Graduated from Clare College, Cambridge University
1947 National Service in the Royal Navy
1949 Editorial Assistant, University of London Press
1952 Joined the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)
1964 Resigned from the BBC to study anthropology
1965 - 1968 Rejoined BBC
Controller, BBC-2 and BBC Television Service
1969 - 1972 Television's Director of Programs (BBC1 and BBC2)
1972 - Remains active as a freelance film producer

Affiliate Organizations

1979-1986 Trustee, WWF International
1981 Trustee, British Museum
1983 Fellow of the Royal Society
1984-1987 Trustee, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
1984-1990 Trustee, WWF UK
1990-1996 President, British Association for the Advancement of Science
1991-1996 President, Royal Society for Nature Conservation


1966 Silver Medal, Zoological Society of London
1981 Kalinga Prize, UNESCO
1984 Honorary Doctor of Science, Cambridge University
1985 Knighted
1985 Gold Medal, Royal Geographical Society
1985 International Emmy, National Academy of Television, New York
1988 Honorary Doctor of Philosophy, Oxford University
1991 Gold Medal, Royal Television Society
1993 The Golden Camera Award, Berlin
1996 Companion of Honour
1998 Honorary Fellow, Zoological Society of London
1999 Honorary Fellow, The Linnean Society

Films and Publications


1954-1964 Zoo Quest
1973 Eastwards with Attenborough
1976 The Tribal Eye
1977 Wild Life on One
1979 Life on Earth
1984 The Living Planet
1987 The First Eden
1989 Lost World Vanished Lives
1990 The Trials of Life
1993 Life in the Freezer
1995 The Private Life of Plants
1998 The Life of Birds


1956 Zoo Quest to Guiana
1957 Zoo Quest for a Dragon
1959 Zoo Quest in Paraguay
1960 Zoo Quest in Paradise
1961 Zoo Quest to Madagascar
1963 Quest Under Capricorn
1976 The Tribal Eye
1979 Life on Earth
1984 The Living Planet
1987 The First Eden
1990 The Trials of Life
1994 The Private Life of Plants
1998 The Life of Birds




  1. *1 Feeding a Malaysian sun bear cub (Helarctas malayanus) in Bameo (1956). Photo: BBC.
  2. *2 With mountain gorillas in Rwanda (1978) Photo BBC.
  3. *3 With king penguins -adults and chicks- (Aptenodytes patagonica)in South Georgia (1992). Photo: Ben Osborne, BBC.
  4. *4 Inspecting the canopy of the South American rainforest from a bucket suspended from a crane used by an Austrian research team, Venezuela, for “The Life of Birds” (1998). Photo: Mike Salisbury, BBC.