Mark O'Shea (herpetologist)

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Mark O'Shea
Mark O'Shea.jpg
Mark O'Shea at West Midland Safari Park 3 April 2005
BornMay 1956 (age 63)
Wolverhampton, England
OccupationHerpetologist, photographer, author, lecturer and television personality
WebsiteO'Shea's website

Mark O'Shea (born 9 May 1956) is an English herpetologist, photographer, author, lecturer, and television personality. He is known internationally as the presenter of the Animal Planet/Discovery Channel series O'Shea's Big Adventure.


Originally from Wolverhampton, Mark O'Shea moved to Shropshire in 2001. Since 1980, O'Shea has conducted herpetological fieldwork in over 30 countries on six continents but he has special interest in the Australo-Papuan region. He has worked in Papua New Guinea since 1986 when he first visited the country as a member of the scientific directing staff of Operation Raleigh. He continued fieldwork in the country as a member of the Oxford University Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine snakebite research team throughout the 1990s, and now researches there under the auspices of a fellowship from the Australian Venom Research Unit (AVRU), based in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Melbourne. In 2006 O'Shea designed a set of six postage stamps called "The Dangerous Snakes of Papua New Guinea", for Post PNG. The launch of these stamps coincided with the snakebite workshops and fieldwork O'Shea and his colleagues from AVRU were conducting in that country.

O'Shea is also involved in the Tropical Research Initiative at Victor Valley College, initiated and led by Hinrich Kaiser. The primary aim of the project was to conduct the first herpetological survey of Timor-Leste and to provide education and research opportunities for local researchers and students in their native environment. An additional goal was to assist government policy-makers and to educate the citizens of Asia's newest country as they tackle issues related to conservation and sustainability. The research has identified significantly greater amphibian and reptile diversity than previously known.

Mark held the position of Curator of Reptiles at the West Midland Safari Park from 1987 until 2002 when he became Consultant Curator of Reptiles.

Television programs[edit]

Giant Snake and Black Mamba[edit]

In 1997 and 1998, respectively, O'Shea made two films: Giant Snake in Venezuela and Black Mamba in South Africa.

O'Shea's Big Adventure[edit]

O'Shea's Big Adventure, or OBA, known as O'Shea's Dangerous Reptiles on Channel 4 in the UK, chronicles his many field excursions to find reptiles around the world. The programs were divided into four series, The Americas, Australasia & Pacific, South & Southeast Asia and Africa & South America. The first two series each contained 13 half-hour films, the latter two each comprised four one-hour films. They were filmed between 1999 and 2003 and have been aired worldwide.

Other series[edit]

Since OBA, he has filmed two episodes of the series Safari Park, charting the day-to-day activities of West Midland Safari Park and the Ongava Game Reserve, filming in the UK and Namibia, and has presented or appeared on other programs, including a report on the Dangerous Wild Animals Act for the BBC strand Inside Out, filming in the UK and the Netherlands.

O'Shea is represented by David Foster Management.


O'Shea has written several books, including The Book of Snakes: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from around the World (University of Chicago Press, 2018), A Guide to the Snakes of Papua New Guinea (1996), Dorling Kindersley's Handbook to Reptiles and Amphibians (2001, with Tim Halliday of The Open University), Venomous Snakes of the World (2005), and Boas and Pythons of the World (2007). He has also contributed chapters to books on subjects ranging from rainforest ecology to snakebite, and written numerous popular and scientific articles.


O'Shea is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and The Explorers Club of New York. In November 2000 he received the Millennium Award for Services to Exploration (Zoology) from the British Chapter of The Explorers Club. The other recipients were Brian Jones (Aerospace), F. Story Musgrave (Artists), Michael Wood (History), Sylvia Earle (Marine Sciences), Sir Chris Bonington (Mountaineering), Buzz Aldrin (Outer Space), and Sir Ranulph Fiennes (Navigation).

He was Chairman of the International Herpetological Society (IHS) from 1983–86 and its President from 2003–06. In July 2010 the IHS awarded O'Shea with a life membership and fellowship for his "contributions to the Society and herpetology in general".

In September 2002 O'Shea received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Wolverhampton, for "services to herpetology".

In September 2018 O'Shea was appointed Professor of Herpetology at the University of Wolverhampton

O'Shea is a patron of the National Association for Bikers with a Disability.[1] and the Small Woods Association.


  1. ^ NABD Patrons Archived 28 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 27 May 2009

External links[edit]