Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, TV Environmentalist Extraordinaire
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente was a popular European environmentalist. He died at the age of 52 but his legacy lives on today. That’s because several generations still remember both the images and adventures he shared, as well as his distinctive voice. His TV show, El Hombre y la Tierra (man and earth) made its mark on a whole generation, as it inspired thousands of people to think about nature.
The TV personality died on March 14, 1980 (his birthday) in Alaska, in a light aircraft accident. The accident happened in Shaktoolik, an Inuit village close to Klondike. It was one of Félix’s favorite places thanks to his passion for Jack London’s work. It’s said that he looked at the sky just before taking off, and, admiring such beauty, said: “what a beautiful place to die”
His strange premonition forms a part of the legend of this multifaceted man, who was capable of moving and surprising a whole society. Furthermore, a society that had no ecological conscience at the time. In fact, Félix laid the foundations for the awareness of the richness of the ecosystem along with the beauty of the animal he loved most, the wolf.
“It’s enough for me to believe that nature belongs to the children to get me to resume my battle for the conservation of wildlife on the rare occasions in which the efforts I make in defense of wild animals become tiring.”
-Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente-
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente and birds of prey
The son of a notary, Félix was born on March 14, 1928, in Burgos, and was well educated. In fact, he grew up with a passion for books and learning. However, it was a long time before he actually attended school. This was because the Civil War set the pace for life at that particular time, and his family opted for homeschooling.
Little Félix enjoyed regular trips to the countryside and the mountains during his first ten years of life. It was during this time that he developed his love for falconry. As a matter of fact, he thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of nature and tried to understand its ecosystems. However, his father was determined to guide him toward a more profitable profession (according to him) such as medicine.
In 1946, the young man began his studies in Valladolid and graduated in stomatology in Madrid in 1957. He practiced dentistry part-time for a few years. That was because he dedicated his afternoons to falconry. His father died in 1960, and Félix was finally able to dedicate himself professionally to the study and protection of birds of prey.
Félix, friend of the animals and a great communicator
In 1964, Félix made an appearance on TVE (Televisión Española). He only appeared on the small screen for a few minutes to talk about birds after winning a prize at the International Falconry Conference. However, it was during that brief moment that he captivated viewers with his distinctive voice and unmistakable way of communicating about nature. Needless to say, the audience wanted more of him.
Shortly after, the broadcasting company offered him a show of his own and he was thus able to communicate his own ideas concerning the fauna and flora of the country. Afterward, came several publications and documentaries, and even a book, Alas y Garras (wings and claws). It received several awards.
An emblematic TV show
His most popular and emblematic TV production, El Hombre y la Tierra (man and earth) was divided into three parts. These were the Iberian, the South American, and the North American series. None of the episodes were scripted and Félix improvised in every one of them. Needless to say, the audiovisual impact was huge.
The main purpose of the series was to raise awareness among children and teenagers in regard to respect for nature. This was an important and innovative move because there was little knowledge and interest in the subject at the time.
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente and the wolves
In 1965, Felix intervened when he came across two wolf cubs that were being badly beaten. In fact, he adopted them and named them Romulus and Remus. Of course, he became their alpha – the leader of the pack. His love for wolves led him to fight for the protection of this animal that many people feared and hated. As a matter of fact, today, this creature is in danger of extinction in Western Europe.
His eagerness to mobilize the population and institutions for the wolves’ protection meant he received more than one death threat. However, he didn’t give up and also fought to protect the lynx, the imperial eagle, and the Iberian bear. Indeed, it’s thanks to him that the concept of “protected species” is now included in some of the hunting laws for these animals. These laws state they’re not to be harmed in any way.
The new laws also eliminated rewards for killing wolves. Furthermore, they initiated a large number of pioneering projects for the conservation and protection of flora and fauna.
Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente would now be 93 years old. Without a doubt, if he were still around, his feisty personality, amazing communication skills, and love for animals would continue to delight millions. Indeed, it’s fascinating that he was already speaking about the need to care for the environment and sustainable consumption at a time when it simply wasn’t done.
Félix Rodriguez de la Fuente was a pioneer and the voice that awakened several generations. He’s sorely missed.It might interest you...