Jack Yabsley stars in the new children's TV series ACE: Animal Countdown Extraordinaire.
Jack Yabsley stars in the new children's TV series ACE: Animal Countdown Extraordinaire. Contributed

Jack discovers cool animal facts

JACK Yabsley would make a great pub trivia partner, thanks to his new TV role.

The former Saturday Disney presenter helms a ship full of facts in the Discovery Channel's locally-produced children's series ACE: Animal Countdown Extraordinaire.

In each educational episode, Jack shares 10 fascinating animal facts from the deck of his swashbuckling steampunk airship HMS Buccaneer.

Q: Why do you think children are so fascinated by animals and what was your favourite animal as a child?

A: I think whether it's a family pet or a rare creature from the other side of the world, kids are fascinated by animals for a large number of reasons. There's something primal and tactile about an animal that can create an immediate bond, or a kinship, or even a respectful fear between them and children, and all that is done without words. I wasn't allowed pets when I was a kid, but I've always been captivated by the great apes: chimps, orang-utans and gorillas. Their likeness to humans is so interesting. I feel like I could watch them all day!

Q: What sets this series apart from other children's wildlife and countdown shows?

A: We had access to phenomenal file vision of all the animals we investigated. I'd never even heard of some of these animals, and then to get to see this beautiful footage of them in the wild was so exciting. And on top of all the cool animals and facts, the series has a fun side with heaps of gags and gross out moments because let's face it, most animals can be pretty gross at times.

Q: Have you learned a few interesting facts along the way while filming?

A: I've learned so many my brain is teeming with them - except they often get mixed up a bit, and I'll end up making false claims at trivia nights. 

Q: Are many Aussie animals featured on the show?

A: Stacks of them. When it comes to the most dangerous, the most bizarre and the most beautiful animals, Australia is punching way above its weight. We basically have the most deadly animals in just about every category, as well as some of the cutest animals - from the quokka and baby echidna - to the weirdly wonderful platypus. Some of the Aussie animals that feature on the show include speedy kangaroos, deadly crocs, venomous taipan snakes and the tough Tasmanian devil.

Q: What's been the most challenging aspect of the role?

A: There's so much information to get across. We feature 10 different creatures per episode, but we wanted to deliver it in bite-size pieces so the audience could remember their favourite (and amazing) animal facts. The fun part of that is creating amusing moments that help to illustrate things like what a vulture's burp smells like, or how a hippo dances across the river floor to get its prey.

Q: You're also a writer and producer; are you involved behind the scenes on this show?

A: No, not on this show. I got to throw myself completely into hosting the series and absorbing all that animal information. I do have a feature documentary I directed coming out on Foxtel in 2017 called Kings of Baxter, which is all about Shakespeare in juvenile detention centres. It's a long way from bizarre animal facts.

Q: Is Jack on the show a character or is he you, if you had a flying ship?

A: He's kind of like me after a couple of coffees and I think I'm secretly a little sharper than he is, although not by much.

ACE: Animal Countdown Extraordinaire airs Mondays at 5.20pm Qld, 6.20pm NSW on Foxtel's Discovery Kids channel.

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