Lucy Cooke loves the animals that the rest of us don’t think twice about. The ugly. The underdogs. The unappreciated species that sadly do not get as much love and adoration as the fuzzy or the “cute”. We shun these outcasts because of their appearance, their unfriendly demeanor, or their unsavory reputation. Lucy firmly believes that these animals deserve our attention. Now she’s on a globe-spanning quest to champion these ignored creatures and to make us love them as much as she does.
Lucy may not think a koala is cute, but hand her a baby Tasmanian devil, and she melts. This remote Australian island – known as “Tazzie” to the locals – is home to some of the planet’s truly odd animals. She travels halfway around the world, to determine which animal deserves the title “ultimate weirdo”.
With a face like a retired boxer, the scrappy devil seems to be the prime contender. But they’re hard to find in the wild. The devil once thrived in Tasmania, but its numbers are plummeting. While humans were once the main threat to their existence, the Tasmanian devil population is facing its biggest challenge yet: a contagious cancer that could wipe them out forever. She stays up all night, works with leading experts and visits rescue sanctuaries for the opportunity get up close and personal with this dervish of oddness.
Lucy gets dirty in her quest to see the devil. She encounters a whole menagerie of local wildlife…. except they’re dead. Dead possums, Bennett’s wallabies and pademelons make great devil lures, so Lucy grabs a bucket and shovel – she’s on road kill duty. With Geoff King’s help, she pulls an all-nighter to see if a devil takes her bait.
Lucy runs into some lesser-known Tasmanian wonders as well. Just a few steps out of her motel room, she’s inundated by tens of thousands of mating and dying Cockchafer beetles! Tasmanians are used to this explosive mating ritual, but to Lucy, it seems like some sort of weird insect cult. Maybe the locals can help explain this mystery. (Watch Lucy’s video blog on the Cockchafer beetles)
Struggling through Tasmania’s harsh winter, wet and waterlogged, Lucy digs through the dirt and mud, through downed tree stumps and logs to uncover a major weirdo: a spiny, termite-eating, egg-laying mammal with a four-headed penis called the echidna. Now this is something worth braving foul weather to see! (Read Lucy’s blog post on the echidna)
Tasmania is also home to the one of the weirdest animals in the world: the platypus. Lucy learns that when scientists first saw it, they thought it was a hoax. The fact that it lays eggs and nurses its young with by excreting milk through its skin doesn’t make it seem any less bizarre. But there’s still an even more deadly point to this reptile-like mammal that puts it in the running to be the strangest animal on Earth…
Traversing Tazzie teaches Lucy the meaning of weird; it’s evolution’s playground, Mother Nature’s creative side. Throughout her journey she’s baffled, bewildered, amused, enthused and appalled. But by the end, Lucy finally will proclaim which is the weirdest of them all.
Don’t miss the series premiere of Freaks and Creeps: Devil Island tonight, Tuesday, July 17th at 10P et/pt.