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REPETITION TAKES WILD OUT OF WILDLIFE

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I never thought I'd say this, but I have overdosed on nature shows on television.

After watching them for so many years, I find they are limited to what the animals can do to entertain. All they can show us is how they eat, mate or give birth.I'm at a stage now where I leave to pop corn while lions are having sex. When a wildebeest gives birth in the middle of a stampede, I doze off. And the other night when a viper snake ate a large rodent whole, I jumped up and said to my husband, "Did you buy any of those cheese curls I like?" and headed toward the kitchen.

It didn't used to be that way. When animal shows first came to the screen, I was mesmerized because I knew so little about them. When Jim Fowler was wrestling a crocodile on "Wild Kingdom" and Marlin Perkins was back at the tent explaining why Jim liked to work alone, I was riveted.

I couldn't get enough of what was lurking out there in the trees and the swamps. I watched "A Day in the Life of a Secretary Bird." (What did I think was going to happen? A lech would chase her around the desk?) I watched George Page do a breakdown on the secrets held by elephant dung. I watched a woman one night try out a new shark-proof diving suit - which wasn't - and as they dressed her arm wounds she said excitedly, "We're making progress," and I shouted at the screen, "We are, aren't we?"

Between beeper collars, researchers hanging from trees, Jane Goodall lurking in the bushes with notebooks, blinds set up in forests and underwater cameras, we have poked into the private lives of animals about as far as we can go. The only thing left would be if they talked, and then it would be a whole new ballgame.

They could star in sitcoms, do cooking shows (guess who I just had for dinner?) or narrate documentaries on people.

This is not to say I am no longer interested in wildlife. I've learned a lot from these shows - lessons that could take me through life. I've learned that you never turn your back on animals with horns growing out of their heads. Never surprise an animal you can't run faster than.

The other night I was focused on sexy Robert Urich narrating a segment on National Geographic. My husband said, "Why are you watching? I thought you said all these shows are about is mating, eating and giving birth."

"If Robert does one out of three," I said, "it's worth waiting for."