300 episodes

History as told by the people who were there.

Witness History BBC

    • History

History as told by the people who were there.

    The frozen zoo

    The frozen zoo

    In 1975, San Diego Zoo began placing tissue samples of rare animals in cryogenic storage for the benefit of future generations. Called the Frozen Zoo, the refrigeration system now contains the cells of more than 1000 species ranging from the white rhinoceros to the black-footed ferret. Scientists are now using the collection to try to save species threatened by extinction. Simon Watts talks to Dr Oliver Ryder, who has worked at the Frozen Zoo from the very beginning.

    PHOTO: Northern White Rhino cells in the Frozen Zoo (San Diego Zoo Institute For Conservation Research)

    • 9 min
    The discovery of whalesong

    The discovery of whalesong

    Whales were being hunted to extinction, when in 1967, a biologist called Dr Roger Payne realised they could sing. It changed the perception of whales and helped found the modern conservation movement. Claire Bowes spoke to Dr Payne about his discovery in 2017. This programme is a rebroadcast.

    (Photo: Humpback Whale, courtesy of Christian Miller of Ocean Alliance)

    • 8 min
    Silent Spring: A book that changed the world

    Silent Spring: A book that changed the world

    Silent Spring, written by marine biologist Rachel Carson, looked at the effect that synthetic pesticides were having on the environment. Within years of its publication in 1962, the widespread use of DDT had been outlawed in the USA. Louise Hidalgo has been speaking to Carson's adopted son Roger Christie about the author and her work.

    Image: A copy of Silent Spring (Credit: Science Photo Library)

    • 9 min
    How the dodo died out

    How the dodo died out

    A flightless bird, the dodo became extinct just decades after being discovered on the uninhabited island of Mauritius by European sailors. Because dodos couldn't fly they, and their eggs, were eaten by explorers and the cats and rats that came with them on board their ships. By the late 1600s there were none left. Simon Watts charts the demise and subsequent popularisation of the dodo.



    Image: An engraving of a dodo. Credit: Science Photo Library.

    • 9 min
    The mystery of the disappearing frogs

    The mystery of the disappearing frogs

    How scientists discovered that a deadly fungus was killing off amphibians around the world. The chytrid fungus has caused the greatest loss of biodiversity in our time. Alejandra Martins spoke to biologist Dr. Karen Lips, one of the key scientists who unravelled the mystery of the extinctions. Photo: dead frog infected with chytrid fungus. Credit: Forrest Brem

    • 14 min
    The killing of Osama Bin Laden

    The killing of Osama Bin Laden

    The US tracked down the al Qaeda leader to a city in northern Pakistan in May 2011. Special operations troops were sent to capture or kill bin Laden in a top secret raid in the dead of night. The Americans didn't tell their Pakistani allies about the raid beforehand. Gabriela Jones has been speaking to Nicholas Rasmussen who was in the White House situation room with President Barack Obama and US military chiefs as the raid took place.

    Photo: Osama bin Laden. Credit:AFP/Getty Images

    • 9 min

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