Bad Reputations: Episode 5: Series 2

In Bad Reputations, we’ll see how the gorilla and the vampire bat both gained frightening reputations when first discovered by explorers and scientists.

Bad Reputations: Episode 5

After initially gaining frightening reputations, it's now known that gorillas and bats are a lot gentler and considerate than their early reputations suggest.

Attenborough on Gorillas


From the first report of this powerfully-built, fearsome-toothed great ape, gorillas didn't stand a chance.

Taking their discoverer Thomas Savage's surname for their original binomial name, Gorilla savagii only served to fuel their reputations as "savage" beasts hell-bent on ripping explorers apart.

Meanwhile, reports in the media would mark them as more horror-film tyrants than the intelligent, sociable, herbivorous animals that we now know share upwards of 95% of our DNA with.

Attenborough on Vampire Bats


Bats have always had a bad reputation, and those with a fear of them getting tangled in their hair would probably say that it's a lasting one.

Blood-drinking South American vampire bats were an incredible discovery, but one that was fraught with misconceptions on its evil agendas, perpetrated by horror fiction and the link with the mythical vampire. There were also questions over how it managed to get at its victim's blood and even which bat it was!

It would seem that even in the animal kingdom you should not judge a book by its cover.