Simon Keys and Siouxsie Gillett are back in action from the 6 July at 18:00 (CAT) for the African debut of National Geographic Wild’s eighth season of Snakes in the City but now they’re joined by Mbali Mtshali, a local snake trainer.
We were lucky enough to attend the launch event for the show and I think we might have been the only adults there not using our kids as a ruse to get excited about the programme! (We don’t have children to use as the excuse!) The event marked the beginning of the new season of the show featured a meet-and-greet with the three hosts, a snake-handling demonstration, and a sneak peek at the first episode.
In this season
In this season, the shrewd snake-catchers make moves across Durban to confront some of the deadliest snakes in the world in the most peculiar circumstances and release them back into the wild. They face off against a deadly black mamba inside a school, a puff adder in a toilet, a huge python on a goat farm, as well as a super-fast monitor lizard in a ceiling, a spitting cobra inside a local shop, and many more dangerous creatures as soon as Mtshali joins the team.
If you’ve never seen the show before…
Simon Keys is tattooed from head to toe and initially is not the two-tone-kaki-broek-wearing expert we used to see at the snake park – I loved those trips as a kid! Nope, he’s not your average conservationist. Keys however takes you through the behaviour of a particular snake he’s handling at the time, the detail on how your body will react to its poison, and or how and why a particular snake might attack.
Pink hair, pink lipstick, Siouxsie Gillett is not someone you’re going to miss walking past in the street, especially if she’s got a beautiful ball python wrapped round her arm! Despite being raised in the city, this herpetologist has devoted her life to the conservation of wild species and has also worked in a zoo. She is also the life partner of Keys and shared with us that surprisingly his deadliest experience was not a snake bite, but in fact, anaphylactic shock from something he’d eaten!
Mtshali, a young woman from Limpopo who later migrated to KwaZulu-Natal, first encountered reptiles while volunteering at a non-profit organisation. She later gained experience working with these animals while working at a reptile park. Since then, she has developed snake handling skills. This vivacious woman, who is full of energy is also a committed body builder.
“For many years, in my culture, these reptiles have been misinterpreted as a sign of witchcraft, a bad omen and an image of the evil serpent. Working on Snakes in the City shows that residents of Durban can catch snakes too – with the right training” said Mtshali. “My biggest message for viewers and my community is that snakes are not these evil monsters that they have been made out to be – snakes are more afraid of us than we could ever be of them,” she adds.
“National Geographic’s mission is to ignite the explorer in all of us, and our on-screen experts have a huge role to play in achieving this mission, as they share the wonders of our natural world with viewers,” says Christine Service, senior vice president and general manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa. “We are excited to welcome Mbali Mtshali to our screens, bringing her infectious energy and passion that, together with Simon and Siouxsie, will go a long way in helping change negative perceptions of these fascinating creatures for National Geographic Wild audiences across the continent.”
Snakes in the City is produced by Earth Touch for National Geographic and don’t forget to tune in tonight – if you have power that is!