From Anatomy of a Beast

Ivan Sanderson made his mark in the 1930s as a best selling author of nature books, featuring exquisitely rendered drawings of exotic jungle animals he drew himself.

Ivan Sanderson, the Caribbean, 1937

During WW II, as an officer in the Royal Navy (Sanderson was a Scot), he sailed a schooner in the Caribbean with his wife Alma, in the guise of a naturalist (which he was) secretly on the lookout for German U-boats.

Ivan and Alma Sanderson, 1938

After the war he and Alma established residence in New York City where Ivan hosted the world’s first color television series “The World Is Yours.”

Ivan in TV studio, ca. 1949

He was for many years the Animal Man on the Garry Moore television show, a frequent guest on early national talk radio, and a prolific writer of magazine articles and books.

Ivan with Garry Moore and capaberra, ca. 1956

As the Animal Man, Ivan was required to produce exotic animals on a weekly basis. He originally sourced his animals from the Staten Island and Bronx zoos, but the constant need for new species to exhibit forced him to begin importing animals directly and he and his animal wrangler partner, Ed Schoenenberger, soon found themselves waist deep in what Schoenenberger called the “animal business.” They christened their new venture Animodels and quickly expanded beyond television appearances to include renting their creatures out for film shoots and exhibitions at sportsmen’s shows and other events.

Alma Sanderson, New York City, 1957

New York being the center of the action, Ivan always maintained an apartment in the Whitby, close to Times Square where the television studios were located. Being in the animal business meant that the apartment was used as a way station for the creatures he was exhibiting on TV. In essence, a mini-zoo in the middle of Manhattan with an ever-changing menagerie.

“Ivan met a lot of people,” Schoenenberger said. “And a lot of people he went to school with at Cambridge had become famous.” It wasn’t unusual to walk into Ivan’s apartment and meet someone like Edmund Hilary.”

In 1958, Ivan was preparing a car trip across the continent for research on a book about the natural history of North America when he learned that a giant Yeti-like creature that the newspapers had dubbed “Bigfoot,” had just been reported in California. He immediately altered his itinerary…


–Mike McLeod

Advertisements