Return to Transcripts main page


Interviews with Sir David Attenboroug and Jane Goodall. Aired 2- 2:30p ET

Aired January 4, 2018 - 14:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, two amazing lives. Sir David Attenborough, the renounced British broadcaster and naturalist on his wild

encounters protecting the planet and his passion for a wondrous world. And the woman who revolutionalized everything we thought we knew about being

human with her groundbreaking work on chimpanzees, Jane Goodall joins us.



AMANPOUR: Good Evening everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London with a special edition of the show. Too many

of us indeed to millions around the world, he needs no introduction. We've grown up watching him and listening to his soothing voice which is our

soundtrack to nature's awesome wonder.

He is Sir David Attenborough, the legendary naturalist whose latest TV series, Blue Planet II, was the most watched in the U.K. in 2017, pulling

in over 17 million viewers per episode. It's about to air across the United States and around the world. And it's actually also set off a

movement to halt the devastating impact of plastics that are polluting our oceans.

I caught up with him between travels as he was celebrating his 90th birthday and as you'll see, he's nowhere near putting his feet up and he

plans to continue his face to face encounters with our planet's many curious inhabitants. So David Attenborough, welcome to our program.


AMANPOUR: What is the secret of your passion and your energy still today?

ATTENBOROUGH: I think it helps to be interested in what you're doing and of course, an awful lot of people including me were actually paid for what

I'm doing which is - and so why stop? But it's a lottery, isn't it?

I mean, I know a lot of people tougher than me or whatever - all sorts of things, but you can't do it anymore, it's not their fault that they can't

remember things. I can't remember a lot of things but, no being able to walk is pretty bad.

AMANPOUR: But you have so much energy, you're so active. What do you remember about how you first got fascinated in this world of wildlife?

ATTENBOROUGH: I think that every child born is in the world of wildlife and by the age of four, they're still inched in - I mean, I took out

someone - turned over a stone and he said you're quite a treasure, a slug. And of course he's right, what was in - one of those funny things at the


How can it see? What does it feel off? How does it even move?

AMANPOUR: And people have come to know and love you and your programs because fo the way you relate to the animals and you never seem to loose

that wow, that wow factor. What, if you could, would be your biggest wow factor in terms of the animals you have met and frankly communicated with?

ATTENBOROUGH: Well, I - you can't communicate with a tiger. I can't communicate with a jelly fish. We are primate and we can communicate with

other primates, there are other things too. I mean, we can communicate with dogs; we can communicate with dolphins if you're clever enough.

AMANPOUR: Well, you say primates and of course there is that classic footage of you with the gorillas where you were doing a presentation to

camera and all of a sudden, the gorillas sort of took over. We're just going to play it.


ATTENBOROUGH: There is more meaning and understanding, an exchanging of bonds. The gorillas and any other animal I know and this is how they spend

most of their time, lounging on the ground grooming one another. Sometimes, they even allow others to join in.


AMANPOUR: It never gets old, that. it never ever gets old.


ATTENBOROUGH: Well, it could have happened of course except for an amazing woman Diane Fawcett who have be traded those. So they were unaccustomed to

- again, I get all kinds of unjustified credit and reflective doors. People thing, how clever - Diane Fawcett made that possible, to me.

AMANPOUR: And you had this amazing moment also with a baby rhino and literally, you got on all fours and you started to make rhino noises of

tried to imitate the noises the rhino was making. But you don't often see a grown man on all fours communicating at the animal's level.

ATTENBOROUGH: Well, naturally. I mean, yes, not terrifically clever to be able to fall on all fours - I mean, I would do it if you'd like.

AMANPOUR: I don't want you to do it. Let's listen for a second.


AMANPOUR: I mean it is amazing and as you say, he had to counteract; he was living in a very dark world that he had an operation. But I just want

to fast forward now because those rhinos plus the elephants are facing very, very serious peril to their existence, some are facing extinction.

CNN has just done an amazing report following a census of the Savannah elephants and finding the most appalling figures where they say that for

instance, between 2007 and 2014, that's in seven years.

The populations have declined in 15 countries by 30 percent and today over the last couple of years have been declining at about 8 percent mostly due

to poaching and some will face extinction. What do you say to that?

ATTENBOROUGH: Well, I think it's a crime and a crime that if it happens will rest heavily on humanity's shoulders, what a dreadful thing to do,


AMANPOUR: What should people be doing to stop this kind of thing? I mean, governments have tried, conservationists have tried and yet the poachers,

some say are acting like organized criminals suing heavy machine guns and AK-47's.

ATTENBOROUGH: But they are and I mean, the - I think in the end, it's going to have to come to - they can become totally protected and that the

sale of ivory, certainly of ivory - collected or no more than 100 year old should be illegal. I don't see any way of getting around it.

AMANPOUR: Do you ever worry after six decades of doing this that this great planet, this great wildlife is in deeper danger than even the most

dedicated conservationists can prevent?

ATTENBOROUGH: Yes, I do. Of course I do. The awful thing is that we know how to fix it, no? Especially traumatic, we know the steps that could be

taken and we need to get the world nations to agree to do it. That's the problem, it can be done.

AMANPOUR: If any of anybody's programs, if anybody's life's work has been exactly dedicated to that, it's you. You were the pioneer and you remain

the master of this profession. Are people paying enough attention?

ATTENBOROUGH: Well, they're not paying enough, that's for sure but they're paying more than they did. And if you talk to young people today, young

people are passionate about wildlife; much more that they were when I was a kid of when I was their age. They're really, really angry at what people

are doing to the natural world and they really want to care about it and do something about it.

AMANPOUR: Are you in any doubt about the mad made impact ton the climate and that we as humans have to change this?

ATTENBOROUGH: There's no doubt. There is no doubt that the globe is warming, there can't be any doubt about that, at all. The argument can be

is how far we are responsible, but even if we weren't responsible, you ought to be doing something to stop it and we can. Again, we know what to


We should stop burning carbon, simple as that. And aging, we can do it if we want to do it. Just the slightest concentration by the technologically

advanced nations of the world to try ad find a way of taking renewable resources from the sun and the wind and sea to replace carbon based energy.

Can be done, we've got all the basic signs; we need simple to refine the technology to make it cheaper than taking it from the ground.

AMANPOUR: Let's go form this industrialized picture to the bird of paradise moment that you found when you were doing one of your programs

right here. I mean, again, we're going to show you speaking as the bird wants to get his word in edgeways as well.


DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: (Kalanesh) the great pacifier of the (natural) world. When he came to allocate a scientific name to this bird, called it

(warhorse) Paradisaea apoda, the bird of paradise without legs.


AMANPOUR: But whether you finally got it out; what you were trying to say, but.

ATTENBOROUGH: Well, that bird was bred in captivity you see. So, it knew human voices and so it was reacting to me as though it was being corded in

some kind of way.

AMANPOUR: What do you feel in terms of contact, in terms of emotion when you have an incident - a moment like that whether it's the bird of

paradise, whether it's communing with the rhino or the gorilla?

ATTENBOROUGH: Of course it is - it takes you out of the human tradition if I could put it that way. I remember one occasion in a very remote part of

northern Australia and I'll never forget it's just one of those odd instances of the sun came up and there was this billabong, this lagoon in

front of me full of the most fabulous birds.

Egrets and crocodiles and ducks and geese and so on, and they're all busy doing their business. And they didn't know we were there, no. And then

suddenly I - the camera moved and it caught a glimpse of the light and then the whole lot took off.

But, before then it had been paradise. Before humanity entered; that was nature is - originally once was. And that's a moment of ventilation, of

recognition that there's something beyond us.

AMANPOUR: I mean, you did something I think you weren't quite 90 yet, but you were getting up to 90 and you got into this unbelievable submersible

and went down to the barrier reef, to the sea bed.

ATTENBOROUGH: Now that's a (Dovel). You're just getting into a thing, you're going to skew the thing down and down you go.

AMANPOUR: Was it scary, claustrophobic?

ATTENBOROUGH: Not at all, not at all.

AMANPOUR: Other worldy?

ATTENBOROUGH: No, because you got a re-breather in it you see. So, you aren't change - I mean I have been in other submersibles; they're not bad.

But you see I'm just as I'm sitting in an armchair watching television.

AMANPOUR: And there's this wonderful, big giant green.

ATTENBOROUGH: That's better than television.

AMANPOUR: .circle. Yes, it is better than television.

ATTENBOROUGH: It's a huge privilege of course, you know fantastic, but because the - I've done in submersibles earlier where suddenly you had to

worry about re-breathers and getting hot and so on. But there was just fantastic privilege.

AMANPOUR: I just want to bring up this picture of the orangutan. What would you say for instance if you sat with the President of Borneo or of

Indonesia; where these habitats are in deep - deep danger?

ATTENBOROUGH: The President of Borneo would agree with me.

AMANPOUR: So, why is he allowing his forests to be burnt down?

ATTENBOROUGH: Because it's a very difficult problem. I mean, they are wonderful creatures; because of that.

AMANPOUR: Is it - let's listen to the sound here because you say he looks like he's doing a circus trick, but.


ATTENBOROUGH: She's seen others doing it and she's copying. And that ability to imitate as well as to use tools is something which started on

monkeys, but has been brought to a much greater level among the apes. And those two talents were ultimately for the transformation of the world.


AMANPOUR: So, again the President of Borneo, the President of Indonesia where their countries are denying these animals their rightful habitat.

ATTENBOROUGH: I mean we'll say - I agree with you, but of course there are other people in this difficult country; it's difficult to control people

and so on. The will is there, it's the execution that's the problem.

AMANPOUR: I read that around 1938 your family took in I believe two young Jewish refugee girls from Germany who came over on the British organized

Kindertransport to rescue them from that horror. Tell me about that, you were a young boy then. What do you remember, what impact did it have on


ATTENBOROUGH: Well, my parents were - felt very strongly that something had to be done about the Jewish refugees. These two girls (Aria) and

(Helga) they had an uncle in New York who had escaped earlier in the 30s. And they were going to go to him. And then - so they could come to

Britain; and then they had to get the papers and then they would go on to America.

So, they came to Britain and then war broke out. And my parents simply said to me and my two brothers, boys you have two sisters and they will be

with us for however long the war lasts. And (Aria) and (Helga) remained cautious as you will for as long as they lived. They - they're not alive

now, but we saw another day reckoned in and I heard a lot from them, you know?

I certainly - when I - at that time we didn't know about Belson and (Birkenau) and so on. And obviously what we did and that made them fear

communism (forever).

AMANPOUR: You've been on sea; you've been in the jungles and the deserts and all over the place, even under the sea. You've also experienced zero

gravity you haven't to space, but you've done that in simulation. And the images are really amazing, you just look as if you were having the best

time of your life. Tell me about it.



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone I'm Michael Holmes, let's take you over now to Washington where the White House press briefing is just

getting under way.

SARAH HCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes I'd like to share with you. That I'll ask you to turn into the screens and then I'll

continue from there.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you for being with us today. The historic tax I signed into law; just two weeks ago before

Christmas is already delivering major economic gains. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are seeing larger paychecks, bigger bonuses and

higher pension contribution. And it's all because of the tax cuts and the tax reform.

And I want to thank all of the companies that worked so hard to do it. Workers at AT&T, Bank of America, Comcast, Southwest Airlines, American

Airlines and many other companies are receiving bonuses of $1,000 or more. Aflac and others are investing more in employees 401Ks. CVS announced it

will hire 3,000 new workers. Bowing, another great company is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in employee training and infrastructure.

More than 60 companies have announced they are raising wages; including many that have voluntarily raised their minimum wage to $15 per hour and I

mean they did that voluntarily. Which many politicians said could only be achieved by government mandate.

Investing in the American workers, the most important investment a business will ever make. I want to thank all of these companies for putting their

tax savings to the best possible use; by creating more jobs and higher wages for the American family.

These great results are just the beginning. When the dreams of the American people are unleashed there is nothing, absolutely nothing we can't

achieve. We are going to make America great again and it's happening a lot faster than anyone thought possible, thank you.

SARAH HCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. President. As he said this is only the beginning and we are excited to see

the economic growth and optimism continues to soar in 2018. Earlier today the President hosted Republican Senators to talk about responsible

immigration reform. He reiterated our view that any action on DACA must come with action on the President's immigration reform principles which

were released last year.

These include a physical border wall on the southern border, interior enforcement, which includes more ICE and Border Patrol agents as well as a

crackdown on sanctuary cities. And reforms to our legal immigration system like ending chain migration and the Visa lottery program in favor the merit

based immigration system.

Next week the President is inviting a bipartisan group of Senators to the White House to discuss the next steps on responsible immigration reform and

to continue that discussion. And with that I'll take your questions, (Jeff).

(JEFF): Sarah, a follow up on this new canon issue. Did White House staff including the (inaudible) signed non disclosure agreement when they came to

work at the White House?

SARAH HCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's an ethics agreement, beyond that I can't get into any additional details.

(JEFF): And does the President want to have the support for anti- establishment political candidates going up next mid term election?

SARAH HCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President wants all American support. He hopes that every American in this country wants

to see us do bigger and better things; that's his focus. He's not trying to single out the support from anyone individual, but he wants to bring

everybody together to move this country forward.

That's what he campaigned on and that's what we've done over the past year. And that's what we're going to continue to do for the next seven years,


(ANNE): The White House has said there were false statements in this book. The President's lawyer has said there was (inaudible) statements. Could

you just give us a few variables of things that have been said in this book that are false that you would like to set the record straight on?

SARAH HCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not going to go through every single page of the book, but there are numerous examples of

falsehood that take place in the. I'll give you one just because it's really easy, the fact that there was a claim that the President didn't know

who John Boehner is pretty ridiculous considering the majority of you have seen photos and frankly some of you have tweeted out that the President not

only knows him but has played golf with him and tweeted about him, I mean that is pretty simple and pretty basic.

Ages of employees which would be super easy to fact check are wrong. Again there are numerous mistakes but I'm not going to waste my time or the

country's time going page by page talking about a book that's complete fantasy and just full of tabloid gossip, because it is sad, pathetic and

our administration and our focus is going to be on moving the country forward, John.

(JOHN): Thanks a lot Sarah. I read the cease and desist letter that was sent by the President's lawyers to both Michael Wolff and Henry Holt the

publisher of this book which seeks to stop the sale of his book. Did the President's lawyers share with the President the idea that this is a prior

restraint and that prior restraints are generally unconstitutional?

SANDERS: I'm not sure about specific details of the conversation between the President and his personal attorneys. I would refer you to them for

questions regarding that matter.

(JOHN): Does the President believe in the first amendment? Does he believe in prior restraints such as the one that's contemplated here.

SANDERS: The President absolutely believes in the first amendment. But as we've said before the President also believes in making sure that

information is accurate before pushing it out as fact when it is certainly and clearly is not, Jordan.

(JORDAN): What is the President's reaction to the growing number of suggestions both in this book and in the media that he is mentally unfit to

serve as President?

SANDERS: The same way we have when it's been asked before that it is disgraceful and laughable. If he was unfit he probably wouldn't be

sitting there and wouldn't have defeated the most qualified group of candidates the Republican Party has ever seen. This is an incredibly

strong and good leader. That's why we have had such successful 2017 and why we will continue to do great things as we move forward in this

administration, John,

(JOHN): Thank you, Sarah. Two questions, first the book repeatedly says that candidate Trump, his family and the top officials of the campaign did

not believe he would be elected. It was the farthest from their mind. You said yesterday you believed in this campaign and felt he would win.

Can you name anyone else who said at the time on the eve of the election that they felt he would win and did the President himself believe he would

not win?

SANDERS: Look as we've stated many times before, go back and look at the some of the interviews specifically Kellyanne Conway. I know she did

several leading up to the days just before the election saying directly that the President can win and would win. I know there were a number of

other campaign officials that echoed those same sentiments.

The President, the First Lady, his family. They wouldn't have put themselves tough the process if they didn't believe they could win and if

they didn't want to win. This was something they were very committed to and have been committed to since taking office and will continue to do so

over the next seven years.

Again it is absolutely laughable to think that somebody like this President would run for office with the purpose of losing. If you guys

know anything you know that Donald Trump is a winner and he's not going to do something for the purpose of not coming out on top and not coming out as

a winner. It just I mean that's one of the most ridiculous things I think the claims of the book.

(JOHN): My other question is tomorrow can we expect a major personnel change and I particularly ask is Gary Cohn going to stay where he is?

SANDERS: I have no reason to know of any personnel change what so ever. Gary has stated he is committed to being here. We just have come off of a

very successful win on the tax cut and reform package which Gary was one of the key leaders of that effort. We're moving full force ahead into 2018

to make sure we get a lot accomplished, Francesca.

(FRANCESCA): Thank you Sarah. I want to follow up on something you said yesterday, the last time that the President spoke to Steve Bannon was early

December at least to your knowledge you said (inaudible) and secondly the President said today I don't want to (inaudible) talk to him.

So how much were they in contact from the time that he left the White House to that early December call that you mentioned? And also how close were

they when they were in the White House? One of the claims in the book was that he frequently dined with Mr. Bannon unless he was already in bed.

[00:14:25] SANDERS: The book also says he had been sidelined by April which I think goes further to indicate that he had very little credibility to give much

information particularly after that point which most of the book is based after that timeframe. Again this brook is mistake after mistake after


(FRANCHESCA): Were they not close by the time you left?

SANDERS: I'm not aware that they were ever particularly close. I would certainly say they have spoken a few times since he left the White House.

But it's not like there were regularly scheduled calls and certainly no meetings between the two of them, Fred.

(FRED): Thank you Sarah. This in regarding the (inaudible) and President's tweets that follow that, does President Trump on authority does

the President favor a national voter ID?

SANDERS: Look we're still going to continue to review the best way forward just because the election commission is no longer in existence we are going

to send the preliminary findings from the commission to the Department of Homeland Security and make determinations on the best way forward from that


(FRED): And on that why the DHS instead of DOJ which seem to be more investigative body?

SANDERS: That was the agency best determined by the administration and we're moving forward and letting them take over the process, (Craig)

(CRAIG): Thank you Sarah. Two questions for you, first does President Trump see marijuana as a States issue or a Federal issue?

SANDERS: The President believes in enforcing Federal Law. That would be his top priority. That is regardless of what the topic is whether it is

marijuana or whether it's immigration. The President strongly believes that we should enforce Federal Law. The move that the Department of

Justice has made which my guess is what you are referencing simply gives prosecutors the tools to take on large scale distributors and enforce

federal law.

The President's position hasn't changed but he does strongly believe that we have to enforce Federal Law.

(CRAIG): And without getting ahead of the President the meeting this afternoon with the (RNC) Chair woman, do you imagine what they will be

discussing a potential run by Mitt Romney in Utah? Is this something the President would like to discuss with Mitt Romney's niece?

SANDERS: Like you said, I'm not going to get ahead of a meeting that hasn't taken place and try to guess what may be discussed and maybe we can

follow up with that question at a later time, Ashley.

(ASHLEY): Sarah it's an incredibly high bar for a public figure to win a libel case, a public figure especially like the President. So I was hoping

you can explain why the President thinks it's an appropriate use of attention and resources to marshal both his west wing and his legal team

against the book's author, and the books publisher, and a former staff member.

SANDERS: In terms of a legal argument I would refer you to the President's attorneys. In terms of the merits I think it is pretty clear. I don't

think we have been a tip toeing around our feelings on this. It's completely tabloid gossip full of false and fraudulent claims and I would

refer you to the President's attorneys on what that looks like in the court of law, Noah. Or Brian, I'm sorry, brains slow today.

(BRIAN): Thank you, Sarah. Will the President go to court to stop the publication of this book?

SANDERS: Again that is something that I would refer to the Presidents attorneys but our position is very clear that we think is full of false and

fake information.

?(BRIAN): The Books going to be published on Tuesday I mean how far is the President willing to go to prevent this book from being published?

SANDERS: He certainly believes that it shouldn't be but in terms of the legal process I would have to refer you to his legal team on that front.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Sara I know we're talking a lot about Steve Bannon but he's not the only one quoted in the book. Katie Walsh who worked for

the White House was quoted on the record extensively.

SANDERS: (inaudible) also put out a statement denying that those quotes are attributed to her.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Is there any kind of action being taken by the White House against any of these individuals? Is there outreach to these

individuals who are quoted to verify whether in fact they made these statements or not? You know there are reports that there were going to be

perhaps implications for her potentially being forced out of groups that would help support the President from the outside.

SANDERS: I'm not aware of any specific action being taken. I do know that she has come out and said the quotes were not attributed to her as

have many other people that this has been - that have been quoted in this book.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Do you take them at their word and there won't be implications?

SANDERS: Absolutely particularly people like Secretary Mnuchin who has pushed back on this and several others. I think that you have to look also

at this author's track record in which he has had a real problem with this in the past. I think that that is something that is certainly a laid

foundation for us to make the assumption that he is defiantly this is a practice that he is used to doing.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: And no further legal action against any of those individuals?

SANDERS: Not that I'm aware of at this time, Kevin.

(KEVIN): Sarah thanks just a couple. I just want to ask you broadly speaking what's your level of exhaustion when you have to have this issue

out there when there are other policy issues?