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Central Park birder Christian Cooper is getting a National Geographic TV show

Christian Cooper observes distant shorebird activity at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge in California.
(Jon Kroll / National Geographic )

Christian Cooper, the avid birder and science writer and editor who went viral after he was falsely accused of threatening a woman in Central Park for asking her to keep her dog on a leash, is getting his own TV show.

National Geographic has ordered six episodes of “Extraordinary Birder,” which will follow Cooper’s avian adventures around the world. Birders, unlike casual bird-watchers, travel to see birds. Bird-watchers notice them while traveling rather than actively seeking them out.

“Life-long birder Christian Cooper takes us into the wild, wonderful and unpredictable world of birds,” the network said when announcing its upcoming programming slate last week.

“Whether braving stormy seas in Alaska for puffins, trekking into rainforests in Puerto Rico for parrots or scaling a bridge in Manhattan for a peregrine falcon, he does whatever it takes to learn about these extraordinary feathered creatures and show us the remarkable world in the sky above.”

Videos of black men being threatened by white people or dying at the hands of police have again gone viral, including incidents in Minneapolis and New York City.

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The series is expected to run on National Geographic’s channels or on Disney+. A premiere date has not yet been announced.

The Long Island native previously served on the board of directors of GLAAD, and, as an editor for Marvel Comics, he helped create one of the first gay characters for the “Star Trek” comic books.

But he is probably best known for his May 2020 encounter in New York when a white woman called police and falsely claimed that he was trying to assault her when he asked her to leash her dog in the Ramble in Central Park — a wooded area beloved by bird-watchers and birders and off limits to unleashed dogs.

Amy Cooper, a white woman arrested last spring after calling 911 during a dispute with a Black man in New York’s Central Park, had her case dismissed.

He recorded the verbal dispute, which occurred on the same day Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, and the clip was posted on Twitter by his sister. It drew worldwide attention and sparked a debate about everyday racism. The woman, Amy Cooper (not related), was initially charged with filing a false police report, but the criminal case was dropped in February 2021 after she completed a diversionary counseling program.

Cooper said National Geographic first suggested a potential show about a year and a half ago and he was “all in.”

A black bird watcher, Christian Cooper, asked Amy Cooper to leash her dog in Central Park. Her racist meltdown is one for the ages.

“I love spreading the gospel of birding,” he recently told the New York Times. He also said he’s looking forward to encouraging more people “to stop and watch and listen and really start appreciating the absolutely spectacular creatures that we have among us.”

“Extraordinary Birder” was announced by NatGeo along with other personality-driven programs from ballroom dancer Derek Hough, former “Top Chef” winner Kristen Kish, travel blogger Jeff Jenkins and urban gardener Indy Srinath.


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