Talk about "gorilla" warfare. We’ve bestowed top honors on the indefatigable Cussons because he’s so immersed in his work rescuing abused chimpanzees that his viewing audience is, quite obviously, an afterthought. As luck would have it, his razor-sharp focus on animals in distress makes for some of the most compelling television around. For the 29-year-old manager of the Jane Goodall Institute’s Chimp Eden in South Africa, it’s less about making small talk with the camera than rescuing abused chimps from countries like Angola and Sudan that were destined to be sold on the black market. Viewers watch in awe as he skulks around in the dark, racing against time, bluntly reacting to the abysmal conditions he finds chimps living in. "If I stay here one minute longer I’m gonna kill someone!" he exploded in one recent episode. This kind of rant is not unusual, and Cussons is unapologetic. It’s back at Chimp Eden where we finally glimpse a softer side of this renegade conservationist. Cussons is happy to leave the stupid pet tricks and shenanigans to other nature show hosts. He’s just not the domestic type. Thank goodness.

Fast Facts

  • Cussons was a financial software developer in South Africa before following his passion to rescue chimps.

  • A popular blogger, Cussons received more than 10,000 fan questions during a recent Animal Planet online chat session.

Honorable Mention:
Bindi Irwin, Bindi the Jungle Girl, Discovery Kids: It’s a rare 10-year-old who possesses the enthusiasm, smarts and charisma to carry her own series. But Bindi has the genes, and a life of on-camera experience, to make her a natural. Whether she’s swimming with the dolphins, exploring the wildlife of Antarctica or answering viewer questions during her on-camera blog, she’s gracefully carrying on the tradition of her late father Steve Irwin.

Return to 2008 CableFAX Program Awards table of contents.

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