15 pictures of Sir David Attenborough you may never have seen before, to celebrate his 91st birthday

A visual catalogue of a national treasure.
A visual catalogue of a national treasure.

May 8 marks Sir David Attenborough’s 91st birthday – so to celebrate a lifetime of achievement in nature conservation and broadcasting, we’ve gathered some rather special images of him.


Sir David with wife Jane and brother Richard
(PA Archive)

Sir David is pictured here on his wedding day 67 years ago. He married his wife Jane at St Anne’s Church on Kew Green. She passed away in 2004.

Also pictured is his older brother Richard, the film actor and director, and member of the House of Lords, who died in 2014.


Attenborough with a Capybara
(PA Archive)

Having given a talk to some children on a zoologocial expedition to British Guiana at the Royal Geographical Society, the broadcasting legend let a young boy pet the capybara he had brought along with him. Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world.


Prince Charles with his sister Princess Anne meet David Attenborough
(PA Archive)

Taken in 1958, Attenborough is seen here entertaining a young Prince Charles and Princess Anne with a feathered friend called Cocky. Attenborough brought the cockatoo home from an expedition for his show Zoo Quest, his first nature programme, which ran from 1954-63 on the BBC.

A year earlier Attenborough brought home another cockatoo to show his daughter Susan, then three, who was taken by surprise when the bird let out a piercing shriek.

Attenborough and daughter
(PA Archive)


Attenborough with his wife
(PA Archive)

After winning a silver medal from the Television Society for work of outstanding artistic merit as controller of BBC Two, Attenborough shows the award to Jane. Famous South African film actress Moira Lister is also pictured, in the centre of the photo.


Attenborough with knighthood
(PA Archive)

It was this year Attenborough received his knighthood. Holding his medal, he is stood here with his daughter Susan (left) and Jane.


The brothers in front of the painting
(Sean Dempsey/PA)

Here he is pictured with his older brother Richard. The pair are sat in front of a double portrait of themselves painted by Ivy Smith, which was pit on show at the National Portrait Gallery.

The Attenborough portrait
(PA Archive)

Later that year Sir David headed to Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean situated south of Indonesia. Filming for a new series called The Trials Of Life, he is pictured surrounded by the island’s red crabs, which are famous for migrating in vast numbers.

Attenborough with the crabs
(PA Archive)


Attenborough with his wax portrait figure
(PA Archive)

In 1992 a waxwork was unveiled of the naturalist at Madame Tussaud’s. His wax portrait has been updated and replaced since.


Attenborough with Parkinson
(Fiona Hanson/PA)

A reception for the British broadcasting industry saw Attenborough rubbing shoulders with fellow famous faces. Ever a fun presence, he’s pictured laughing with chat show host Sir Michael Parkinson. In another, he shares a joke with comedian Rowan Atkinson.

Attenborugh with Atkinson
(Fiona Hanson/PA)


Attenborough with a moth
(Geoff Caddick/PA)

Sir David was pictured here holding a moth at London Zoo while launching a National Moth Recording Scheme, a cause which enlisted thousands of volunteers to count the creatures as part of a conservation initiative.

The broadcaster has a butterfly named after him, the Euptychia attenboroughi, one of many species including a dinosaur, echidna and plant with the famous conservationist’s name.


Sir David Attenborough stands in front of a section of the keel of the RRS Sir David Attenborough
(Peter Byrne/PA)

Sir David also had an Arctic research vessel named after him, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, after a vote by the public to name the ship Boaty McBoatface was overruled – a decision most accepted quite quickly.


(Jane Barlow/PA)

Finally, earlier this year Attenborough travelled to Edinburgh Zoo where he met Inti the armadillo. After the hands-on meeting he received a cheque for £250,000 from the People’s Postcode Lottery for Fauna & Flora International, a conservation charity dedicated to protecting biodiversity on Earth.