Menu
Return to Blog

After my National Geographic cover story appeared in August, many were fascinated by the scented panda suits! I talked with a number of media personnel, such as The Creators Project (part of Vice), NPR’s How To Do Everything podcast, Business Insider, and My Modern Met, about what it takes to get candid shots of these elusive animals.

As a photographer, I often try to look as little like a photographer as I can and this costume was definitely an extraordinary example. The disguise prevents pandas from getting accustomed to their human caregivers and allows me to get close to my subjects.    The suits are scented with panda urine and feces, which is not as gross as it sounds.  It smells like bamboo and something similar to wet puppies.  But I have to say, when you wake up every morning and put on an outfit somewhere between a mascot and a bank robber, you know you’re really living the story.

You May Also Enjoy



Travel Tales by AFAR: Inside a Daring Giraffe Rescue in Kenya

Travel Tales by AFAR: Inside a Daring Giraffe Rescue in Kenya

A decade ago, a group of endangered Rothschild’s giraffes was relocated to a remote lakeside peninsula in Kenya. But in recent years, due to rising water levels, the peninsula became an island, trapping the giraffes. In 2020, a team of conservationists set up a daring rescue—one that wildlife photographer Ami Vitale traveled to document. This is her [ … ]

Read More

Toronto Film Magazine: About Shaba

Toronto Film Magazine: About Shaba

Ami was interviewed in May by Toronto Film Magazine about her filmmaking and her experience making Shaba. In the mountains of northern Kenya, a Samburu community is doing something that has never been done before. They’ve built a sanctuary for orphaned elephants to try to rehabilitate them back to the wild. The project is not [ … ]

Read More

Ami Vitale on CBS Sunday Morning

Ami Vitale on CBS Sunday Morning

Ami was honored to have recently been featured on the program CBS Sunday Morning in the segment, “Travel photographers on capturing images close to home.“ During the pandemic, photographers who are used to working in exotic locations have been focusing on more local subject matter, opening up new avenues of creativity. Correspondent Rita Braver talks [ … ]

Read More