A world-renowned zoologist, author and television presenter on animal and human behaviour, as well as an acclaimed painter.
Why he is outstanding
During a career spanning more than six decades, Dr Desmond Morris has never followed the obvious path.
Despite being an academic by training, Dr Morris became a household name in the 1950s when he presented Zoo Time, the UK’s first wildlife television series aimed at children. The weekly programmes were broadcast live from a special, residential studio in London Zoo for 11 years, where Dr Morris was Curator of Mammals. Viewers were fascinated with regularly featured animals included Congo the chimpanzee, who became famous for the paintings he completed under Dr Morris’ observation.
Dr Morris is also the author of more than 60 books including Manwatching, through which he is credited with introducing the now popular concept of body language, and The Naked Ape, which remains one of the bestselling books of all time. The book was the first to study man in purely animal terms, including our habits of sleeping, feeding, mating, fighting and rearing young, and went on to be translated into 23 languages.
In 2009, at the age of 82, Dr Desmond Morris made another three-month journey around the world, visiting the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Asia, the Far East, Australasia, and the South Pacific.
In parallel to his scientific career, Dr Morris is also a respected painter whose works have been exhibited everywhere from London, Rome and Paris to New York and Sydney, and have sold for many thousands of pounds at auction. He continues to paint from his Oxford studio, now one of just three surviving members of the original surrealist movement.
Did you know?
Dr Morris still keeps an old school report which states: ‘He does not have a great deal of intelligence but he will make the most of it.’