(SHANGHAI/WILDAID) - Celebrity star power is helping raise awareness of the plight of endangered wildlife through a stunning new Chinese documentary series. The five-part film series was launched in Shanghai today with the Shanghai Media Group's New Media Business Unit and WildAid.
Each episode in the series pairs a celebrity with a different endangered species, telling the story of tigers, manta rays, sharks, rhinos, the Yangtze finless porpoise, and the vaquita. The documentaries were filmed in China, India, the United States, the Bahamas, Mexico, and Kenya.
"Each of these magnificent species is endangered and has its own distinct story," said Steve Blake of WildAid China. "The films give viewers a much deeper understanding of these endangered animals, as well as the places they live, and even about our celebrity ambassadors as well."
Telling his experience swimming with sharks in the Bahamas, sometimes without any diving equipment, actor and avid diver Li Guangjie said "this was my first time to be filming on the ocean floor. At times, dealing with the water pressure, cold, fatigue and nausea was challenging, but it was well worth it being able to interact with sharks like this. I couldn't help but fall in love with them."
Watch Li Guangjie in action underwater
Actress Jiang Yiyan visited rhinos in Kenya. "I got to see rhinos up close and understand how beautiful and friendly they are. It was beyond moving. If we keep losing wildlife like this, humans are going to be very lonely on this planet," she said.
Lang Lang wrote and performed a piano piece for his film about China's finless porpoise and the perilously endangered vaquita of Mexico. Actor Wu Xiubo went on his first ever scuba dives, including night dives to swim with mantas in Hawaii.
Liu Huan, who traveled to India to learn about tigers, expressed sentiments shared by all involved, "there are ways for people and wildlife to live together. This unforgettable adventure helped me realize that."
Speaking at the event, SMG Secretary Teng Junjie stated that "programing that promotes the environment has always been a priority for SMG. Through this series, our New Media Business Unit has found a way to tell these stories in a compelling way, with an added sense of responsibility and inspiration."
Celebrity Explorers will air on Chinese TV networks and online this summer. To learn more, visit the webpage (Chinese only) www.wildaidcelebrityexplorers.com