My Instagram Diary: Backstage Pass to the Today Show

Inside Rockefeller Plaza, the lights are on, the cameras are cued, and the producers are laughing on the set of The Today Show. The crew jokes between tapings (even making fun of the more frivolous segments) and it’s refreshing to see people not taking themselves too seriously in a city popularized for its cutthroat attitude.

Natalie Morales and Al Roker sit in a perfectly accented faux living room and laugh with the crew. “Ten seconds,” yells a producer off camera. Natalie and Al bring their giggles down and seconds later, they are live on national television.

Somewhere off set, a baby camel nuzzes.

NWF on the Today Show

NWF media personality David Mizejewski is a regular presenter on the Today Show, appearing with a myriad of fun animals. His July 17th appearance focused on animals well-adapted to surviving in hotter temperatures. Over 13 million viewers tuned in, exposing them to the National Wildlife Federation’s conservation mission. Check out my backstage photo diary and learn some interesting facts about the featured animals.


(This little guy was only 3 1/2 months old!)

  • Found in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa
  • Stores fat in its hump, NOT water
  • Long eyelashes and ear hairs, and sealable nostrils keep sand out
  • Can withstand at least 20–25% weight loss from sweating (most mammals can only tolerate about 15%)

 Harris’s Hawk

  • Found in the Southwestern United States, and Central and South America
  • John James Audubon named this bird in honor of his ornithological companion, financial supporter, and friend Edward Harris
  • Adult females are 35% larger than males
  • While other raptors hunt alone, the Harris’s hawk hunts cooperatively in “packs”


  • Found in North Africa, Middle East and across south-central Asia and into India
  • Diet consists mainly of plants, sometimes insects;  plants supply water needed to survive
  • Skin changes colors according to temperature – darker pigmentation allows skin to absorb sunlight more effectively
  • Loves to bask in areas with surface temperatures of over 50 °C (120 °F)

Sulcata tortoise

  • Found in southern edge of the Sahara desert, in northern Africa
  • Third largest species of tortoise in the world – can weigh up to 200 lbs!
  • Average lifespan is 50-150 years
  • Primarily herbivores; a diet with a lack of calcium combined with high protein can cause their shells to take on a pyramid appearance

Hamadryas baboon

  • Found in the Horn of Africa and the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula
  • Arid environments provide advantage of fewer natural predators
  • Love to hang out and take naps by their favorite waterholes;  in the dry seasons, baboons will dig their own drinking holes only a short distance from natural waterholes
  • Diet consists of various plants and insects, reptiles and even small mammals

Watch the full segment:

Kathy Lee and Hoda found themselves relating so much to the baboon’s eating habits that they continued to talk about it into the next hour of the Today Show!

Tune in Next Time

To find out when NWF’s next appearance on the Today Show will be, follow David Mizejewski on Facebook and Instagram for more nature photography, and check for more updates.

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