Sir David Attenborough stabbed by "dangerous" cactus with needles like "glass" while filming

Sir David Attenborough stabbed by "dangerous" cactus with needles like "glass" while filming

Sir David Attenborough placed his hand inside the cholla cactus and despite wearing layers of protection sustained "painful" injury.

While shooting on the set of his latest documentary, Sir David Attenborough was stabbed by a cactus that has "glass" like needles. According to the Independent, the 95-year-old broadcaster was in California filming the BBC series The Green Planet when he came across the cholla cactus. 

Sir David described the rare plant as an "active aggressor" which is coated in "spicules of glass," he approached the cactus and put his hand inside it. Despite wearing multiple layers of protection of thick gloves, he was left with a "painful" injury on his hand. 

"The cholla really is a physical danger. It has these very dense spines in rosettes, so they point in all directions," he said recounting the experience. "And if you just brush against it, the spines are like spicules of glass, I mean they are that sharp and they go into you and you really have trouble getting them out."


He added, "So that is a really dangerous plant. The cholla is an active aggressor. I mean, you feel you better stand back and you better watch out." The executive producer of the series, Michael Gunton, was the one who suggested that Sir David be sent to try this dangerous stunt. "One of the joys of going on location is thinking up horrible things to get David to do," said Gunton.

"So what we did, because it was so dangerous, was we got a Kevlar under-glove, and then on top of that, a welding glove. So you can imagine that’s about as good protection as you could possibly get," he shared. However, what he didn't expect was for the show's legendary host to get painfully injured in the process. 

"David bravely put his hand inside this cholla cactus, as requested. And halfway through it, these spikes still managed to get through those two bits of protection," he admitted. "And it’s quite painful, isn’t it?" Gunton went on to share that the cactus was "so dangerous" and animals in the area avoided it. "Not only does it puncture you, but they sort of act like a trap," he explained.


"So if you put your hand into it, you can’t remove your fingers and you do unfortunately find grisly signs of an animal that has gone and got trapped by it," he added. The Green Planet is an upcoming three-part series from the BBC’s Natural History Unit. In this, we will see the natural historian getting up and close with quite a number of plants from the US to Costa Rica and across Europe.

Filmed in 26 countries over four years, the documentary aims to show "how science and technologies have advanced, and how our understanding of the ways in which plants behave and interact has evolved." It also revealed the intricate loves of plants and how their existence affects the ecosystem around them. 

Cover image source: Getty | Photo by John Phillips

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