Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente was an exceptionally talented naturalist who made television programmes in Spain in the sixties and seventies. His love of the animal world and outstanding communicative skills opened the eyes of a generation of Spaniards, at a time when a large proportion of the population was moving away from the countryside into the big cities.
Felix was born in the province of Burgos in 1928 where he spent his early childhood playing in the countryside. He did not start school until he was eight years old, and his education was then interrupted by the civil war.
At eighteen he started studying medicine in Valladolid and although he qualified as a specialist in orthodontic and digestive medicine in 1957, his real vocation was animal biology. In the sixties he wrote magazine articles about nature and appeared on a children’s television programme in 1965 with some falcons. The programme was hugely successful with the public and led to the production of his first documentary series “Lords of Space”. As part of the programme he worked very closely with a pack of wolves, even living amongst them and being accepted as an Alpha male: this in a time when wolves were considered a menace to be hunted by livestock farmers.
In 1974 he embarked on his most ambitious project called “Man and Earth” and in 1980 he was filming a race of husky dogs in Alaska when the light aircraft in which he was filming crashed. He died in the accident, one day before his fifty-second birthday.
The work of Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente was fundamental in raising awareness of environmental issues amongst the Spanish, leading to legislation for animal protection. Even today, his closely observed filming of animal behaviour and beautifully phrased commentaries make fascinating viewing.