Babalú Exclusive: Cuban footprints across America — The Wildlife Expert
The following Babalú exclusive is an excerpt from author Fernando "Fernan" Hernandez's book, "The Cubans, Our Footprints Across America," which documents the incredible stories of Cuban refugees who came to America, the land of opportunity, and achieved incredible success through hard work and determination.
More excerpts will appear in the coming weeks...
Miami-born Mireya Mayor, Ph.D., is a television favorite among wildlife enthusiasts. She is a scientist, explorer, wildlife correspondent, anthropologist, inspirational speaker, wife and mom. She has reported on wildlife and habitat issues to worldwide audiences for more than a decade. The only daughter of Cuban immigrants, she is a former NFL cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins. She eventually became the first female wildlife correspondent for the "Ultimate Explorer” series on National Geographic television and has spent years exploring some of the wildest and most remote places on earth.
As a child Mireya had birds, fish, dogs, cats, parrots, rabbits, turtles, and a little chicken named Maggie. But it was in 1996, while attending the University of Miami that she realized that her passion for animals could become a career. She took an anthropology course, not entirely knowing what that meant. She was fascinated by the class, particularly her professor’s stories of chasing monkeys in the wild. She applied for a grant, was approved and went on to spend a summer in the remote jungles of Guyana , one of the most unexplored regions of the world at that time.
The following year she journeyed to the wilds of Madagascar into areas so isolated, that she often found herself surrounded by local villagers whom had never seen a foreigner before her arrival. Against all odds, and following in the footsteps of renowned scientists who had tried and failed, Mireya completed the first ever long-term and genetic studies of two of the most critically endangered primates in the world, Perrier’s sifaka and the Silky sifaka. National Geographic offered Mireya the opportunity of a lifetime and her dream job: a staff wildlife correspondent position, complete with her own office. She has since gone underwater with six-foot Humboldt squids, scoped out gorillas in Central Africa, swam with great white and six-gilled sharks, and worked with leopards in Namibia (just to name a few projects).
In 2005, Mireya received two Emmy Award nominations for her work on the television series “Ultimate Explorer”. She was later named an "Emerging Explorer” in 2007 by National Geographic which selects rising talents, “the next generation of visionaries” who push the boundaries of adventure and global problem-solving, inspiring people to care about the planet. She also starred in the Expedition Africa: Stanley & Livingstone (History Channel) as one of four explorers to retrace the nearly 1,000 mile trip of Henry Stanley and David Livingstone. Mireya is now one of the hosts on National Geographic’s new channel Wild!. She is a Fullbright scholar, National Science Foundation Fellow and published author with a Ph.D.in Anthropology from Stony Brook University .
Order your copy of the book HERE.