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Bird-watcher wrongfully accused in Central Park video gets a bird-watching TV show

Christian Cooper watches distant shorebirds at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge in California. The National Geographic channel has announced that Cooper will host a series called Extraordinary Birder. Cooper was in the spotlight after a woman in New York City's Central Park called the police and falsely accused him of threatening her in May 2020.
Image credit: Jon Kroll


Christian Cooper, the bird-watching Black man who was the target of false accusations during an encounter in New York City’s Central Park in 2020, has a new TV show airing on National Geographic.

The channel announced this week that Cooper, a lifelong bird-watcher, will host a series called Extraordinary Birder. In the series, Cooper will take viewers into the “wild, wonderful and unpredictable world of birds,” according to National Geographic.

“Whether braving stormy seas in Alaska for puffins, trekking into rainforests in Puerto Rico for parrots, or scaling a bridge in Manhattan for a peregrine falcon, he does whatever it takes to learn about these extraordinary feathered creatures and show us the remarkable world in the sky above,” the network said in a statement.

The channel has yet to announce a premier date for the show.

In an interview with The New York Times, Cooper said his love for bird-watching began at age 10, and he told the newspaper he “was all in” when National Geographic approached him about the possibility of a TV show nearly a year and a half ago.

“I love spreading the gospel of birding,” he said in the Times interview.

The 59-year-old was thrust into the spotlight in May 2020 after Amy Cooper (no relation), a white woman with a dog, called the police saying he threatened her and her dog.

In a video recorded by Christian Cooper, Amy Cooper is shown calling the police, telling 911 dispatchers, “I’m in the Ramble. And there is a man, African American — he has a bicycle helmet. He’s recording me and threatening me and my dog.”

Amy Cooper was charged with a third-degree misdemeanor over making the false claim, but the charge was later dropped, given her lack of a criminal background.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office says it dropped the charge after Amy Cooper completed five restorative justice sessions.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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